Mathematics education for student teachers: Disciplining the pedagogy

Year: 1994

Author: Schuck, Sandy

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

This paper outlines the dilemmas and paradoxes faced by lecturers and students as they come to deal with their concerns regarding mathematics as a discipline and a language, and appropriate pedagogies for the teaching and learning of mathematics.

For the lecturer there is a tension between comforting and challenging students. Are they to be wooed into a more positive attitude to mathematics, at the cost of avoiding the complexity of the discipline; or are they to be challenged by the unique language of mathematics at the risk of alienation and exclusion? The latter is the more difficult and quite often returns students to their original perception of mathematics as a harsh and unforgiving subject which is beyond their capabilities as they struggle with unfamiliar concepts and the discomfort of not knowing.

For the student there is paradoxically a desire to "instil understanding" when they themselves may not fully understand. They idealise what is good practice but deny it in their own learning.

Finally the paper will consider the problematic nature of students' orientation to nurturing so that children "may be happy at school" and their reconciliation of this view with the perceived intellectual demands of mathematics teaching and learning.