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Why maths has baggage (and how some people avoid it)

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Many of us view mathematicians as “boring, obsessed with the irrelevant, socially incompetent, male and unsuccessfully heterosexual” (Mendick, 2005). Why has mathematics picked up this kind of discursive ‘baggage’, and how does this facilitate or impede students’ engagement with mathematics in schools?

This seminar will explore how we perceive mathematics, how we experience learning mathematics emotionally, and what this has to do with social justice. I will report on findings from my MPhil, an interview-based study of high-achieving students, and outline plans for my PhD, a sociological study of mathematics education in New Zealand. You should emerge from this seminar with a greater understanding of how inequality plays out in the mathematics classroom, a process with resonances in many other areas of education.

This talk is part of the FERSA Lunchtime Sessions series.

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