Theorising mathematics teaching: pre-service teachers’ perceptions before and during school placement


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Pre-service teachers frequently experience a tension between their research-informed university college training and their in-school practice. In mathematics teaching, this is a particularly sharp contrast, since personal experience of traditional transmissionist school mathematics and dominant discourses about the importance of ‘right answers’ and ‘natural ability’ can resurface and be reinforced by schools which are driven by accountability and measurement within the context of international performance comparisons such as TIMSS and PISA. Consequently pre-service teachers often tend to focus on teaching instrumental skills, abandoning the holistic approach to mathematical literacy promoted by many teacher educators. This paper reports on data collected as part of a project focusing on this tension, drawing primarily on an analysis of first-year students’ theories about mathematics teaching on entry to a teacher education programme, and their reflections during their in-school practice six months later. Seen within the context of further data gathered from teacher mentors, our analysis indicates particular points of tension around translating theory into practice


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