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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Attending to relationship : a narrative inquiry into teachers’ experiences with community and place in mathematics education Fritzlan, Amanda


The purpose of this study is to explore the ways in which relationships that teachers build with community and place shape mathematics education. It takes place in the context of urban and culturally diverse elementary public-school classrooms. This study occurs at a time when teachers across Canada are engaging in conversations and exploring strategies to bring Indigenous perspectives into all school subject areas, including mathematics. This is a response to calls for appropriate action to address the devastating legacy of residential schools for Indigenous students. Narrative inquiry research methodology was used to inquire into the storied experiences of seven non-Indigenous teachers from a school district in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia. Data gathered in a series of meetings that spanned the school year included: audio recordings, my own field notes, photographs of shared teaching resources, and email correspondence. Data analysis included three phases: (1) co-composition with each teacher of an ‘Individual Narrative’ account of our meetings; (2) the identification of ‘Resonant Narrative Threads’ across all seven of the ‘Individual Narratives’; and (3) a re-reading of the teachers’ narratives within the context of broader institutional and popular dominant narratives with attention to teachers’ counter narratives. Findings illuminate how elementary school mathematics teachers negotiate the tension between institutional and popular notions of an abstract universalizing curriculum at three sites of questioning: (1) Who can do math? (2) What counts as math? and (3) How can we relate with place through math? Details of all of the teachers’ descriptions of their day-to-day practices share common themes of deeply considering what success in mathematics means, whose math they are modelling for their students, and the agency of place in their lessons. This study contributes to the field of culturally responsive mathematics education by specifically focusing on an urban and culturally diverse context and adds to discussions of socio-cultural values in mathematics education. Through privileging teachers’ voices this study contributes to recent research that foregrounds issues of agency and identity in mathematics education. Teachers’ shared narratives demonstrate specific strategies and issues for non-Indigenous teachers engaging with Indigenous perspectives in mathematics education.

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