The case of textbooks in mathematics teaching. (English)

Vandebrouck, Fabrice (ed.), Mathematics classrooms. Students’ activities and teachers’ practices. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers (ISBN 978-94-6209-279-2/pbk; 978-94-6209-280-8/hbk; 978-94-6209-281-5/ebook). 117-133 (2013).

Introduction: The mathematics textbook is, in France, a central object to teachers’ professional practices (and more markedly among beginners), and in students’ daily work, whether in class or in their personal work. Paradoxically though, it is rarely studied for itself in the education research in France and especially in the mathematics education research. We first need to point out that in France, the design of the textbooks is the task of private publishers who, each, suggest their textbooks to the teachers. Hence, the choice of the textbook given to the students is done by the team of teachers in each school, the financing is provided by the administration. A textbook is the result of a complex interaction between multiple constraints. We are interested as a first step in describing the perception of that interaction which we have developed through an experience of writing and editing a textbook. We make it a point to underline the resulting leeways. Taking into account this description, it seemed interesting to evaluate the homogeneity of the textbook, to research whether the authors benefit from this leeway while writing, mainly when writing exercise panels which they have suggested. We have thus analyzed the exercises of four textbooks (covering the same theme) in terms of the knowledge at stake and the activities that they would generate for the students.