Shall We Do Politics or Learn Some Maths Today? Representing and Interrogating Social Inequality

  • Paul Dowling
  • Jeremy Burke
Part of the Advances in Mathematics Education book series (AME)


In this chapter we shall first introduce a schema that describes strategies of representation in terms of whether representation is explicit or tacit and whether it is oriented in consonance or dissonance with dominant or expected patterns, in this case of social inequality. We shall then use this schema to describe the construction of gender and social class in school textbooks, giving some attention to the contexts of their use. We shall argue that addressing social inequalities demands explicit, dissonant strategies, referred to here as interrogation. However, by reflecting on a particular critical mathematics lesson apparently interrogating racial inequality, we conclude that interrogation itself is likely to lead to misrepresentation where the mathematical activity is foregrounded and mathematics is likely to lose out where it is not. Ultimately, we may be left with the choice of whether to do politics or to teach mathematics.


Social Class Social Inequality Mathematics Lesson Mathematical Discourse Mathematics Textbook 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of EducationUniversity of LondonLondonUK
  2. 2.Kings College LondonLondonUK

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