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Ethics, performativity and decision mathematics. (English)
Joubert, M. (ed.), Proceedings of the British Society for Research into Learning Mathematics (BSRLM). Vol. 28, No. 2. Proceedings of the day conference, Southampton, UK, June 27, 2008 and of the New Researcher’s day conference, Chichester, UK, June 26, 2008. London: British Society for Research into Learning Mathematics (BSRLM). 43-48 (2008).
Summary: The spirit behind the incorporation of decision mathematics (and discrete mathematics) into the A-level mathematics curriculum was that of encouraging the creation of algorithms and problem solving. However, some students and teachers tell us it is “boring" and not “proper" maths. In order to have an insight into the role that decision mathematics plays in the current programme of mathematics, we observed some decision mathematics lessons and interviewed teachers and departmental authorities. We found that decision mathematics in the classroom involves the students being programmed to carry out the algorithms, without any sense of “agency" in problem solving, creating or evaluating algorithms, and with few significant connections or applications of their pure maths. The decision mathematics option is said by teachers to provide an “easy" way for students to gain marks, and a “relaxing" module for them in contrast to core pure modules. Performativity and the “league tables" culture of the education system in Britain thus ensure that alternatives to decision mathematics may not be considered an ‘equal’ option especially for weaker students, whatever the needs of the students or the teachers’ professional beliefs and ethics.
Classification: D34
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