Mathematics is a loaded term: society seems to
divide between those few who experience sheer joy from the subject, and the
majority for whom it is a phobia. Nations obsess about their ability to impart
and absorb mathematical knowledge; global comparative studies on the matter are
taken as grounds for national pride or shame. Post-apartheid South Africa has
had its own share of self-flagellation, with much research into the reasons
behind the country’s poor comparative performance.
This book on the pedagogy of mathematics offers
an overview of that research, re-asserting some of the findings of previous
studies. These include evidence that the state of mathematics teaching and
performance in South Africa today reflects the impact of its colonial and
apartheid past, and a racist system that presupposed that keeping mathematical knowledge
from the oppressed would prove their supposed inferiority. However, this book
goes beyond historical issues to pose crucial questions: why at all do we teach
mathematics? What is the subject’s actual utility to life? And there is a unifying
logic informing our South African way of teaching mathematics?In seeking to answer these questions, the
authors explore some of the best practices in mathematics education, both locally and internationally.
They argue for possible methods of nurturing mathematical thinking amongst
young people in South Africa.
Key issues to emerge are the importance of
teaching mathematics in a way that links to learners’ concrete social
environment, and the necessity for joint efforts on the part of government,
unions and private partners. In addition, the study argues for the importance
of teachers’ developing a deeper understanding of mathematics, and of creating
learners with productive mathematical identities, capable of making sense of
mathematics in South Africa’s diverse languages.
The Pedagogy of Mathematics in South Africa: Is There A Unifying Logic is an important book for anyone interested in how to accelerate the
slow improvements in mathematics that are underway in South Africa.
To purchase the publication please contact Angela McClelland at firstname.lastname@example.org or 011 646 2844.