South African Journal of Higher Education

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Teachers\' practical rationality of mathematics teaching and policymaker rhetoric about mathematics as reasoning and mathematical relationships

M F Gierdien


This article reports on a comparison between, on the one hand, what is called the
`practical rationality of mathematics teaching\' of a small selection of teachers in the
Western Cape and, on the other, education policy statements on `mathematics as
reasoning\' and `mathematical relationships\' in Mathematical Literacy, Mathematics
and Mathematical Sciences ± the mathematics component during the mid-1990s of
the South African government\'s Curriculum 2005. The article is a theoretical and
practical improvement on an original study, which compared contact points
between the ways teachers speak and the ways policymakers write about school
mathematics reform. The improvement is centred on a consideration of
mathematics teaching as a practice and the way that teachers learn in such a
practice. Conversations during interviews with the teachers in the sample indicate
that SchoÈn\'s notion of reflection-in-action is a key to understanding how teachers
use their practical rationality as they try to understand nuanced meanings of the
`kind\' of mathematics teaching with respect to policy statements on mathematics as
reasoning and mathematical relationships. Results of the study have practical and
theoretical implications for the education of teachers of mathematics.

South African Journal of Higher Education Vol. 21 (3) 2007: pp. 457-472
AJOL African Journals Online