Issues in Mathematics Teaching
How the publisher describes it:
“This book presents the key debates that the mathematics teacher will need to understand, reflect on and engage in as part of their professional development. Issues in Mathematics Teaching is suitable for those at initial training level right through to practising mathematics teachers. Its accessible structure enables the reader to pursue the issues raised as each chapter includes suggestions for further reading and questions for reflection or debate.”
Review by Chris Bills
“Particularly for 'new teachers - both students and NQTs”
As we might expect of a book edited by Peter Gates it focuses on the social context of teaching mathematics. The contributors all have a solid reputation in mathematics education and write with authority. A list of the contributors will be sufficient to persuade many to buy a copy:
Tony Cotton, Robyn Zevenbergen, Carrie Paechter, Derek Kassem, Jo Boaler, Dylan William, Alan Bishop, Mike Askew, Kevin Delaney, Malcolm Swan, Janet Ainley, Paul Dowling, Jan Winter, Anne Watson, Candia Morgan, Barry Cooper, Mike Ollerton, Paul Ernest and Paul Andrews.
The book has been written particularly for 'new’ teachers - both students and NQTs. It also has much to say to 'old’ teachers in both primary and secondary schools. Each chapter begins with 'introducing the issue’ and 'key questions’, which signal the content and may encourage the reader to reflect on their present understanding of the topic before reading the authors view.
At several points in each chapter there are activities to stimulate further reflection - these include suggestions for work with children and other teachers. Each chapter finishes with an ‘invitation to reflect’ which provides thought-provoking questions or activities. There is also ‘further suggested reading’ in addition to the references cited in each chapter. Clearly this is a book for the serious student of teaching, be they trainee, NQT or experienced teacher. Though designed for new teachers it is likely to make most sense to teachers with some experience of classroom teaching. I would encourage student teachers to read this during their initial teacher education and again when they have worked in schools for a few years.
Inevitably with an edited book some chapters overlap and there are repetitions. This can be irritating but fresh voices can add emphasise and give new perspectives. Similarly the authors' different interpretations of the common format for each chapter may also be refreshing or irritating. The many typographical errors are simply irritating!
There is a passion in many of the contributions that gives readers much to contemplate. Many of us will find common ground with the contributors. This could, however be an uncomfortable read for new, and old, teachers who feel they are powerless in the face of perceived classroom constraints, yet are in sympathy with authors who suggest radical changes. The book is in turn frustrating and illuminating. Many of us who read this as experienced teachers may become defensive, as a reaction to the criticism of common classroom practice, yet know that the contributors often reveal shortcomings in this practice that we would wish to remedy.
The book is also in turns philosophical and practical. The message that comes through is that teachers of mathematics can play their part in making the world a better place. Readers may find themselves reflecting on wider issues than those 'simply’ related to the mathematics classroom! In the ‘social context’ section of the book you will be confronted by thought provoking ideas such as: teachers can teach ‘anti-racist’ mathematics; pupils are constructed as successes or failures by the set they are in; mathematics teachers teach values through mathematics. Though this may sound daunting there are constructive suggestions for teachers to move toward greater equity in the classroom.
Not all the authors focus on equity issues and several of the chapters would find a place in more conventional books for student teachers. There are contributions on resources, misconceptions, assessment, international comparisons and the NNS that also provide food for thought and ideas for the classroom.
It would be invidious to single out any particular contributor for praise or approbation. Many of the authors will be well known to MT readers and this may influence your opinion of their contributions. If, like me, you are a fan of many of them you will read with rapt attention.
I would urge everyone interested in mathematics education to read ‘Issues in Mathematics Teaching’ but be prepared for a mixture of reactions. This is a book that you will want to discuss with others who have read it, not because you agree with everything in it but because you want to test out your reactions to it. This may be regarded as high praise!
Chris Bills • University of Central England
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Routledge; 1 edition (13 Sep 2001)
Product Dimensions: 23 x 15.6 x 2.2 cm