Learning mathematics as being stirred into mathematical practices: An alternative perspective on identity formation

Peter Grootenboer, Christine Edwards-Groves

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)
84 Downloads (Pure)


This article presents a practice perspective of mathematics pedagogy and mathematics learning by considering the interconnections between how developing a mathematics identity is bound up with the sayings, doings and relatings one experiences in everyday, ordinary mathematical encounters. Broadly, mathematics education is fundamentally about stirring students into mathematical practices. In schools, doing mathematics is generally encountered in and through pedagogical practices that constitute lessons. Lessons, and the practices that compose them, create conditions for identity formation; thus one with a mathematical identity is someone who engages in mathematical practices. These practices are nuanced and site based. Considering the situatedness of lessons is an ontological view of mathematics education, and as such, offers an alternative view to the pervasive epistemological perspectives on mathematics learning, teaching and identity. To argue for a practice understanding of mathematics learning and identity development, the theory of practice architectures is utilised as an analytic frame to examine empirical data from a primary school mathematics lesson. Findings delineate the ways that learning arises from being stirred into the characteristic site based practices, and mathematical identities are expressed in and, at the same time, exert pressure on the sayings, doings, and relatings encountered in lessons. We argue that it is important that students engage in authentic mathematics practices if they are to develop positive mathematical identities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)433-444
Number of pages12
JournalZDM - International Journal on Mathematics Education
Issue number3
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 10 Dec 2018


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