Contextualization of mathematics: Which and whose world?

Title: Contextualization of mathematics: Which and whose world?

Author: Rubel, L. & McCloskey, A.

Journal: Educational Studies in Mathematics

Affiliation: Department of Mathematics Education, Faculty of Education, University of Haifa, Israel.

Abstract: We frame teachers’ contextualization of mathematics (CoM) as a classroom-based identity resource. We explore CoM in secondary classrooms in the segregated school landscape of the US, focusing specifically on schools that serve primarily low-income Black and Latinx students. We review literature that discusses commonly-cited affordances for CoM according to formative, affective, functional literacy, and critical literacy rationales and problematize those rationales relative to prior research. We analyze 58 lessons from 12 classrooms at 11 schools to reveal patterns in CoM relative to those commonly cited affordances. The formative, affective, and functional literacy rationales were frequently evident. Teachers draw largely on generic human experiences and marketplace contexts, positioning students as consumers or employees. There were few instances of CoM naming racism or inequality, and our analysis further reveals blind spots in these efforts. Our discussion considers the implications of these patterns.

Key words: culturally relevant pedagogy, mathematics education, real world contexts, equity.

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