Critical Mathematics Education in Neoliberal Era

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    Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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    Public schools in the United States are currently facing the consequences of neoliberal educational implementations. Neoliberalism aims to privatise and redefine public education to satisfy the needs of the labour market; it imposes a standardised and ‘teacher-proof’ curriculum, which is considered by many to reduce the quality of education to meet the goal of improving test scores. On a broad conceptualisation, its influence has replaced the idea of the citizen with that of the consumer. Some research has suggested that this market-driven process strips public education of its potential to help students develop the skills, attitudes, and values needed to become critical citizens. Given this climate, the present research offers a case study. Drawing on a critical participatory action research approach, it investigates how critical mathematics education (CME) responds to the tension between the needs of a neoliberal system and the needs of students to fulfil their potential as citizens and as human beings.
    The original contribution of this dissertation is that despite obstructive implications of market-driven changes, a practice of CME to promote critical citizenship can be implemented through open-ended projects that resonate with inquiry-based collaborative learning and dialogic pedagogy. This practice necessitates transforming the classroom into a community of mathematics learners to democratise classroom life and create opportunities to promote participatory and social justice–based citizenship. The study also identified two main limitations of CME resulting from: (a) being a counterhegemonic practice enacted within an educational (neoliberal) system, while simultaneously criticising that same system; and (b) a lack of adequate learning materials and professional support to enact a CME program.
    Original languageEnglish
    QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
    Awarding Institution
    • Charles Sturt University
    • Edwards-Groves, Chris, Principal Supervisor
    • Murray, Elizabeth, Co-Supervisor
    • Brabazon, Tara, Advisor
    Award date18 Dec 2017
    Publication statusPublished - 2017


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