Reference Work Entry

Encyclopedia of Mathematics Education

pp 484-487


Political Perspectives in Mathematics Education

  • Paola ValeroAffiliated withDepartment of Learning and Philosophy, Aalborg University Email author 


Power Politics Modernity Neutrality of mathematics Social rationalities In(ex)clusion Mathematics for all Credit system Subjectivity


A political perspective in mathematics education is a way of looking at how mathematics, education, and society relate to power. It stands on the critical recognition that mathematics is not only important in society due to its exceptional, intrinsic characteristics as the purest and most powerful form of abstract thinking but also and foremost, because of its functionality in the constitution of the dominant cultural project of Modernity. Thus, it assumes that the teaching and learning of mathematics are not neutral practices but that they insert people – be it children, youth, teachers, and adults – in socially valued mathematical rationalities and forms of knowing. Such insertion is part of larger processes of selection of people that schooling operates in society. It results in differential positioning of inclusion or exclusion of learners in relation to access to socially privileged resources such as further education, labor market, and cultural goods.

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