Commentary on the Chapter by Paul Dowling and Jeremy Burke, “Shall We Do Politics or Learn Some Maths Today? Representing and Interrogating Social Inequality”

Mathematics Educators as Political Activists: Dissonance, Resonance, or Critical
  • Bill Atweh
Part of the Advances in Mathematics Education book series (AME)


To start on a personal note, I consider the opportunity to respond to the chapter by Dowling and Burke to be an honour and privilege indeed. In the past I have always found Dowling and his colleagues’ writings to be a challenge to many of our widely accepted views and practices in mathematics education—even for those mathematics educators, may I add, writing from sociopolitical or sociocultural perspectives. Reading this chapter at this particular time was opportune for me. It spoke directly to findings of a recent research project I have participated in as well as some writing I am currently undertaking on the Australian national curriculum. Reading this chapter, I found myself agreeing with the majority of arguments developed, with the exception of one (minor?) point I will address in the last paragraph below. Here I will restrict my comments to two points that the chapter raised for me: the construction of the relationship between mathematics and the world (in particular the social world), and the corresponding tasks for mathematics education (in particular with respect to the agenda of social justice).


Social Justice Mathematics Education Mathematics Teacher Social World Everyday Language 
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  1. Atweh, B., & Brady, K. (2009). Socially response-able mathematics education: Implications of an ethical approach. Eurasia Journal of Mathematics, Science & Technology, 5(3), 267–276. Google Scholar
  2. Biesta, G. (2010). Good education in an age of measurement: Ethics, politics and democracy. Boulder: Paradigm Publishers. Google Scholar
  3. Gutstein, E. (2006). Reading and writing the world with mathematics: Toward a pedagogy for social justice. New York: Routledge. Google Scholar
  4. Skovsmose, O. (1994). Towards a philosophy of critical mathematics education. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Publishers. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Skovsmose, O. & Valero, P. (2001). Breaking political neutrality: The critical engagement of mathematics education with democracy. In B. Atweh, H. Forgasz, & B. Nebres (Eds.), Sociocultural research on mathematics education (pp. 37–55). Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum & Associates. Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Curtin UniversityPerthAustralia

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