Manufacturing the Mathematical Child
A Deconstruction of Dominant Spaces of Production and Governance
Mathematics is a subject held in high esteem around the world, yet the teaching and learning of mathematics is rarely viewed as good enough and many find the subject difficult to comprehend, or engage with. In Manufacturing the Mathematical Child, Anna Llewellyn asks some difficult questions in order to determine why this is the case and to question who it is that we allow to succeed at mathematics, particularly within the context of neoliberalism, where education is a product of the market.
By looking at the various sites of production, Llewellyn examines the ways that key discursive spaces produce very different expectations of what it means to do mathematics and demonstrates that these place various homogenised expectations upon children. Arguing that these are not natural, but instead a reproduction of discursive norms, the book demonstrates why some people fit these standardized ways of being and others do not. Using England as a case study and referring to other international contexts, Llewellyn argues that there is a functionality found within certain educational policy discourses, and a romantic attachment to the natural child found within educational research, neither of which can match what happens in the messy classroom. As a result, it becomes evident that exclusion from mathematics is inevitable for many children.
Original and exciting, this book will be of great interest to academics, researchers and postgraduate students within the fields of mathematics education, childhood studies, policy studies, and Foucauldian or post-structural analysis.
Table of Contents
CHAPTER ONE: Introduction: Stating the obvious: the context and the questions
CHAPTER TWO: Un-stating the obvious: Theory to challenge norm
CHAPTER THREE: Un-stating the ‘normal’ and 'natural' child
CHAPTER FOUR: Unpacking educational policy
CHAPTER FIVE Unpacking mathematics education research
CHAPTER SIX: Spaces of Enactment
CHAPTER SEVEN: Messy Bodies: What next?
Anna Llewellyn is an assistant professor in education at the Durham University; her work examines the constructions of childhood in society.
"Anna Llewellyn provides an excellent introduction to Foucault’s work for an educational audience taking mathematics teaching and learning as the main example. As teachers and pupils become ever more subject to regulative apparatus and standardised expectations in the service of market imperatives this book provides an invigorating approach to understanding how teaching and learning might be newly understood to provide more opportunities for creative learning. The book invites readers to consider their own investments in mathematics so that we might tackle the mathematical world of which we find ourselves a part."
Professor Tony Brown, Manchester Metropolitan University. Author of Teacher Education in England: A critical interrogation of school-led teacher education. Routledge.
"Manufacturing the Mathematical Child looks at how the young learner of maths is produced through research, policy and teacher talk. Anna Llewellyn is a powerful new voice in mathematics education developing the poststructural work started by Valerie Walkerdine. Llewellyn’s original and provocative analysis identifies what is unsaid in our accounts of teaching and learning mathematics. In so doing, she shows how the commonsense ideas of ability, confidence, progress and understanding exclude many children and compels the research community to ask some difficult questions of our own practices."
Heather Mendick, Freelance research consultant.
"In this book Anna Llewellyn turns her formidable intellect on the central school subject of mathematics and shows how it is greatly overvalued in society and schooling. Digging beneath the rhetoric of neoliberalism she shows how education has become fabricated around the privileging of measurement, accountability and targets and is ‘government by numbers’. She reveals that success in mathematics, far from being the natural outcome of ability, is constructed and follows on from conditions produced by culture and society. The ‘Mathematical Child’ is manufactured through a regime of regulation and surveillance, and the chances of doing well are a product of a preferred way of being, as the active cognitive subject. Not only are the government, inspectorate and schools behind this distorted enterprise, but mathematics education researchers and teacher educators are also complicit if not active participants. In also challenging the unquestioned pre-eminence of understanding in mathematics she reveals herself as one of the most brilliant scholars working in educational research today."
Paul Ernest, University of Exeter.