Resisting interaction and collaboration in secondary mathematics classrooms

Year: 1997

Author: Goos, M, Renshaw, Peter, Galbraith, P

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Recent research in mathematics education has conceptualised mathematics teaching and learning as an inherently social and communicative activity that requires the formation of a local community of practice, where ways of thinking, modes of inquiry, communicative conventions, values, and beliefs

characteristic of the wider community of mathematicians can be progressively enacted and appropriated. Over the past three years we have developed a research program investigating patterns of social interactions that help establish and maintain such a culture in senior secondary school mathematics classrooms. We have observed a variety of participation structures: teachers and students guiding and scaffolding the performance of less expert partners, students with incomplete but approximately equal expertise engaging in exploratory discussion or prodding each other's thinking forward when working on problems, teacher-led episodes which involve students in authentic mathematical inquiry, as well as instances of students working alone. The teacher's actions are crucial in creating the culture; however, the teacher's invitations to participate can be resisted, rejected or subverted. In this paper we consider cases of students who appeared to dwell on the fringes of the classroom's social networks, and examine ways in which their participation was solicited and supported by peers.