Bakhtin and some dilemmas of mathematics-language. (English)

Phakeng, Mamokgethi (ed.) et al., Mathematics education in a context of inequity, poverty and language diversity. Giving direction and advancing the field. Cham: Springer (ISBN 978-3-319-38823-6/hbk; 978-3-319-38824-3/ebook). 7-18 (2016).

Summary: Throughout much of her work, Jill Adler’s abiding interest has lain in the political implications of language in practice in mathematics classrooms, not solely because of the cultural importance ascribed to success in mathematics, but also because of there being some specific interactions of significance to be found within mathematics-language, our equally weighted hybrid term coined to signal their unseparateness. In the closing chapter of her 2001 book, she offers a number of questions that remain relevant fifteen years later: “If the costs of obtaining meaningful mathematical communication are so high, can they possibly be made widely available? Or does meaningful mathematics conversation as a route to mathematical learning, become, however unintentionally, the preserve of the privileged few? Expressed in more political terms: in whose interests is the dominant construction of mathematically rich and meaningful communication?” In this chapter, we explore these questions. To do so, we critically review some key ideas in Adler’s work, notably the concepts of dilemma and resource in relation to language. Our review of these ideas is informed by and elaborated through a Bakhtinian theoretical perspective.