The role of mathematics teacher education in overcoming narrow neocolonial views of mathematics

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Over the past 30 years, teacher education has changed to incorporate a larger emphasis on understanding students’ sociocultural backgrounds, knowing that these influence their learning. However, in terms of mathematics and mathematics education in teacher education, less has been done to recognise the sociocultural mathematics backgrounds of students. An example is provided to show how entrenched colonial attitudes to mathematics have developed into neocolonial policies that influence mathematics education. This example is based on a large historic research project in Papua New Guinea (PNG) that aimed to document and analyse the nature of mathematics education from tens of thousands of years ago to the present. Data sources varied from records of first contact and later records, archaeology, oral histories, language analyses, lived experiences, memoirs, government documents, field studies, and previous research especially doctoral studies. The impacts of colonisation, post-colonial aid and globalisation on mathematics education have been analysed, establishing an understanding of the current status of mathematics education as neocolonial. Neocolonial education policies diminish cultural ways of thinking. Thus, teacher education has an important role in sensitizing preservice and inservice teachers to the impact of neocolonial approaches as well as in developing with students some ways of reducing this impact and encouraging more holistic, culturally relevant mathematics education.
Original languageEnglish
Article number868
Pages (from-to)1-24
Number of pages24
JournalEducation Sciences
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 25 Aug 2023


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