Re-imagining mathematics and mathematics education for equity and social justice in the changing South African university
Debates about transformation for a more equitable and socially just South African university and society more broadly have highlighted the need to consider how university curricula may (re)produce enduring historical and societal inequities. They also suggest the need to bring student voices into conversations about reimagining these curricula. There is a silence in these crucial debates about the role that the practices and language of mathematics and mathematics education may play in (re)producing or transforming inequities. This article proposes conceptual tools that help, firstly, to understand and to challenge this silence in the historical and socio-political context of the South African university. Secondly these tools can be used to re-imagine mathematics and mathematics education for equity and social justice in the changing South African university. These tools − a socio-political perspective and a framework of equity as access, achievement, identity and power are drawn mainly from the work of critical mathematics educators Rochelle Gutiérrez, Ole Skovsmose, Paola Valero and Renuka Vithal, and critical linguist Norman Fairclough. The proposed equity framework offers a way to work with the tension between providing access to and achievement in the dominant mathematics practices and critiquing and transforming these practices. To illustrate the potential of these tools I use the voices and actions of university students as represented in my research conducted at an elite English medium historically white university in South Africa.
Keywords: access, achievement, equity, identity, mathematics education, power, sociopolitical perspective, university mathematics
All content is managed by a Creative Commons license 3.0 which allows readers to:
- Share — copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format
- Adapt — remix, transform, and build upon the material for any purpose, even commercially.
- The licensor cannot revoke these freedoms as long as you follow the license terms.
Under the following terms:
- Attribution — You must give appropriate credit, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made. You may do so in any reasonable manner, but not in any way that suggests the licensor endorses you or your use.