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Title: Troubling "understanding mathematics-in-depth": Its role in the identity work of student-teachers in England
Authors: Hossain, S
Mendick, H
Adler, J
Keywords: Teacher education;Mathematics Enhancement Course;Understanding;Identity work;Poststructuralism;Colonialism;Equity
Issue Date: 2013
Publisher: Springer
Citation: Educational Studies in Mathematics, 84(1), 35 - 48, 2013
Abstract: In this paper, we focus on an initiative in England devised to prepare non-mathematics graduates to train as secondary mathematics teachers through a 6-month Mathematics Enhancement Course (MEC) to boost their subject knowledge. The course documentation focuses on the need to develop “understanding mathematics in-depth” in students in order for them to become successful mathematics teachers. We take a poststructural approach, so we are not interested in asking what such an understanding is, about the value of this approach or about the effectiveness of the MECs in developing this understanding in their participants. Instead we explore what positions this discourse of “understanding mathematics in-depth” makes available to MEC students. We do this by looking in detail at the “identity work” of two students, analysing how they use and are used by this discourse to position themselves as future mathematics teachers. In doing so, we show how even benign-looking social practices such as “understanding mathematics in-depth” are implicated in practices of inclusion and exclusion. We show this through detailed readings of interviews with two participants, one of whom fits with the dominant discourses in the MEC and the other who, despite passing the MEC, experiences tensions between her national identity work and MEC discourses. We argue that it is vital to explore “identity work” within teacher education contexts to ensure that becoming a successful mathematics teacher is equally available to all.
Description: Copyright @ The Author(s) 2013. This article is published with open access at
This article has been made available through the Brunel Open Access Publishing Fund.
ISSN: 0013-1954
Appears in Collections:Education
Brunel OA Publishing Fund
Dept of Education Research Papers

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