Towards A Social Critique of Mathematics Teaching in Primary Schools

Year: 1986

Author: Christensen, Carol, Cooper, Tom

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

This paper analyses teaching practices in primary mathematics in terms of the role of primary mathematics in the social and political functions of schooling in reproducing the stratified nature of present society. The analysis is a neo-marxist critique based on the notion of hegemoney (Gramsci, 1971) and the theories of Apple (1980) and Giroux (1980). The correspondence theories of Bowels and Gintis (1976) are extended to include the notions of cultural capital (Bourdieu and Passeron, 1977; Bernstein, 1977), resistance, penetration and limitation (Willis, 1977 ) and non-decision making (Bachrach and Baratz, 1970 ). Mathematics teaching is seen to have a formidable role in reproducing crucial ideologies that support capitalist product ion, a role made more powerful because of the ideology of objectivity that surrounds mathematics itself and masks its hegemonic function.