Pressing dilemmas: meaning-making and justification in mathematics teaching

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Meaning-making and justification are two important goals of current reforms in mathematics education. Working with learners to develop meaning-making and justification through communication and discussion in class can create dilemmas for teachers, particularly dilemmas between seemingly compatible reform goals. Drawing on previous descriptions of teaching dilemmas, I identify dilemmas observed in the classrooms of two reform-oriented South African teachers. Two key dilemmas are whether or not to press particular learners' meanings and whether to take up or ignore learner contributions. I show how these dilemmas are supported by the 'press' move of reform pedagogy and how these two dilemmas come together to create a third overarching dilemma: the dilemma between working with learners' meanings and encouraging justification.

Keywords: South African education; classroom interaction; mathematical meaning; reform pedagogy; teaching dilemmas

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: School of Education, Wits University, Johannesburg, South Africa

Publication date: February 1, 2010

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