A Case Study of Social Justice Mathematics: The Experiences of Secondary Students and Preservice Teachers in Mathematics Teaching and Learning
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This case study described the experiences of secondary students and preservice mathematics teachers in the teaching and learning of social justice mathematics (SJM). Specifically, participants’ experiences in making connections among the mathematics curricula and the real world, perceptions about mathematics, and responses to an integrated curriculum approach were described. Students participated in SJM activities designed by preservice teacher participants: one component of a pre-existing extracurricular Social Issues Club at a high school in Southeastern Ontario. Mathematics activities, led by the researcher or one of the preservice teacher participants, were designed to complement the social justice issues that were being explored by the members of the Social Issues Club. Data were obtained through observations, questionnaires, focus group, individual interviews, written reflections, and artifacts. Results demonstrated that preservice teacher participants had unique professional and educational encounters prior to SJM that they connected to their SJM experience. Subsequent to this experience, preservice teachers suggested limited ideas about integrating curriculum into their future teaching practice beyond the content and contexts made familiar to them through SJM. With limited exposure to examples of curriculum integration identified by preservice teachers as a barrier, results suggest that preservice teachers need more opportunities to engage in mathematics curriculum integration. Students showed an expanded view of connections between mathematics and the real world through their descriptions of the various ways in which SJM had helped them to apply mathematics concepts and understand the issues they were exploring. They enjoyed SJM’s collaborative mathematics learning approach and valued the opportunity to discuss the social issues about which they were concerned. Although the preservice teachers were confident about what they thought to be topics of interest for secondary students, there was a disconnect between students’ choices of contexts for mathematics learning and the beginning teachers’ assumptions about students’ interest. This finding suggests that there is a need to support preservice teachers to understand students’ interests in mathematics learning and that students’ opinion needs to be solicited. In addition, participants’ visions about enhancing mathematics teaching and learning through collaboration and providing students with autonomy allowed suggestions for the practice of mathematics teaching.