The Shape of Life

  • Fiona Walls


This chapter examines the way the children came to make choices about the kinds of mathematics to study at school and the possible careers they might pursue. Using the term “occupational subjectivity” the chapter looks at occupation not only as career or vocation but as the activities that children preferred and the ways in which they saw themselves through such activities. The chapter shows how children’s occupational choices were shaped in compromise and circumscription, between what was desired and what was possible. Subjected in the competing discourses of school, home and friendship groups, the children made their decisions with an eye to their futures. Mathematics became a significant determining factor in the children’s careers, particularly the results of their external examinations. For some, the lack of sufficient mathematical skills closed doors and changed the shape of the children’s lives.


Advanced Mathematics Occupational Choice Friendship Group Math Teacher Math Method 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.James Cook UniversityTownsvilleAustralia

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