Pedagogy: the (mathematical) narrative in classroom practice.

G. Wake

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Central to individual students??? emerging identities as learners and users of mathematics is their experience of mathematics in classrooms. Therefore in seeking to understand how we might engage more students in mathematics we focus on mathematics lessons, making observations and analyses in the ethnographic tradition with video and audio recordings. One focus of analysis investigates how teachers mediate the mathematics (i) using a range of different ???pedagogic practices???, and (ii) by developing a lesson narrative interweaving mathematical with other, everyday narrative devices.Immediately visible and apparently dominant in setting a ???tone??? for the classrooms of different teachers are their pedagogic practices e.g. the monological transmission of information; whole-class discussions; ???modelling??? an answer to an exam question; playing a ???game??? in pairs; group problem solving, etc. These practices appear to differentially support relational or instrumental understanding of students whilst also developing classroom communities that are more or less engaging for different students.To bring the mathematics more sharply into focus we turn to the socio-cultural construct of narrative (Bruner, 1996). Thus we conceptualise the teacher as storyteller engaging learners with his/her personal construction of a mathematical narrative of a topic/concept. From our case studies we analyse how each teacher organises the total ???story??? of their lesson using the ???social narrative thread??? in an attempt to connect with their students ???everyday??? world and knowledge, running alongside, and at times interconnecting with, the ???mathematical??? world and ???scientific knowledge??? (in Vygotsky???s sense of the everyday and scientific). We explore how in, two lessons where teacher colleagues introduce ???the same??? mathematics???, these two strands of narrative (mathematics and social) may be aligned to a lesser or greater extent. We see how these may support each other in a powerful way to (re-) define what it is to do mathematics, and how a CHAT analysis suggests that this realigns the object of the classroom activity system so that the community acts together to support the relational understanding of mathematics.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationhost publication
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2008
EventConference of the International Society for Cultural and Activity Research - San Diego, USA
Duration: 9 Sept 200813 Sept 2008


ConferenceConference of the International Society for Cultural and Activity Research
CitySan Diego, USA


  • Pedagogy, narrative, socio-cultural theory


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