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Liberation Mathematics

We all know it, although not everyone will admit it: Math sucks. It's uninteresting, irrelevant, and pointlessly difficult. But even people who spend their lives avoiding math will repeat the platitude that it is important for students to study mathematic

Angela Vierling-Claassen

on 18 March 2015

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Transcript of Liberation Mathematics

Future Dreams Heteronomy: Teacher as sole authority Math Anxiety Part of the way individuals are socialized to acceptable behavior
Can signal a threat to our social being
Tends to develop over time
A state of the self, rather than passing emotion
Feeling is one of being unworthy of connection and relationship What is Shame? Poor Performance Typical Model of Affective Issues in Math Help student overcome anxiety Better Performance Math Avoidance Less Avoidance Failure Anxiety Avoidance Feeling Powerless Shaming others Anger Identifying as "Bad at Math" Poor Performance Why Shame in Math? Traditional classrooms
leave little room for interpretation or ambiguity
focus on algorithms with right/wrong answers
Teacher set up as authority even more than in other subjects
Math competence seen as stand-in for intelligence
Math used as a gatekeeper to keep people out of high-paying & powerful careers Here the student is the problem since anxiety is an individual problem Because shame is a social issue, this is a community problem, requiring solutions in relationships and communities Irrelevant
Doesn't make sense
Pointlessly difficult Everyone Needs Math Isolated & powerless students Isolation & blame of teachers Math Sucks Primacy of math (top of hierarchy)
Math as indicator of intelligence
Math as gatekeeper
Possible usefulness of math Possible to develop ongoing collective
Dissemination and outreach
Same methodology applied to different ages
Workshop/short course possible with similar impact Assessment and Analysis Product of the group process itself Q: Secondary assessment like pre/post test? Q: Focus work with goal of paper or self-published book? Liberation Mathematics: Reconstituting Mathematical Identity Liberationist/Feminist methodology
Collective meets to analyze memories from their own lives
Seeks to use memory to study the process by which identities are formed.
People are not just bearers of roles, but actively create their own identities and at times participate in their own subjugation. Liberation Mathematics Situation with (possible)
math content Writing memories and reflections Collective analysis and questioning: themes, differences, connections to culture Critical consciousness Engage in collaborative selection of problems Reform efforts focus on what we educators can do to solve their problems and get them to engage in the kind of work we value Angela Vierling-Claassen
avierlin@lesley.edu Liberation Mathematics, spring 2013: students analyze their mathematical identities, put them in context, determine what they value mathematically, take power over their own mathematical identities. Belief in competence of all to participate in this selection Developing mathematical power Alone vs. in community, tensions between pressure of performance and support of group Writing Group Analysis Problem Memory Work Critical Problem Solving 3rd person narratives provide distance & draw out details Development of product such as paper or self-published book Theory development & writing Focusing on situations & problems that are relevant to tudents Analysis of problems from typical and reform math classrooms Solidification of narratives, themes, reconstituted identities Recording developments in each group session, accountability Of writing and other materials like articles & textbooks Overcoming "freezing" when faced with problem Dealing with discomfort of "groping" Interrogation Critical interrogation & mathematical exploration What is the focus? What is left out? What mathematics is being used or could be used? Why? Shame About Mathematics Underneath failure anxiety is shame Crawford, J., Kippax, S., Onyx, J., Gault, U., & Benton, P. (1992). Emotion and gender: Constructing meaning from memory. Sage Publications, Inc.
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Webber, V. (1998). Dismantling the Altar of Mathematics: A Case Study of the Change from Victim to Actor in Mathematics Learning. Literacy and Numeracy Studies, 8(1), 9–22. How to craft assignments so that students can authentically engage? How to balance that with student control?
How to guide the class, be a teacher, hold students accountable without taking over the project
Can I have students hold each other accountable
My background in qualitative research is thin -- how to best beef it up & then help to train students?
Could give students a pre-test and post-test, but this would seem to violate the safe space and students control I am trying to establish. Are there better ways that I can do an assessment beyond the one the students and I do together?
How can I have the students assess themselves?
Thoughts about having students develop a particular product as a goal such as a paper, website, or book Questions for now:
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