Socio-Political Perspective

Socio-political-ImageLearning how to teach mathematics involves the development of many different knowledge bases. Content knowledge, pedagogical content knowledge (Shulman, 1986), and mathematical knowledge for teaching (Hill, Ball & Schilling, 2008) are just some dimensions of teacher knowledge that have been proposed in the mathematics education literature as necessary for teachers. Gutiérrez (2013) proposed the idea of “political conocimiento” or “political knowledge”. She explained,

although I use the term “knowledge” in the title of this commentary, I prefer the term conocimiento….Knowledge is the literal translation of the Spanish word conocimiento, yet knowledge (in English) does not allow us to distinguish between things we know objectively versus subjectively. For me, political conocimiento assumes clarity and a stance on teaching that maintains solidarity with and commitment to one’s students. Among other things, political conocimiento involves: understanding how oppression in schooling operates not only at the individual level but also the systemic level; deconstructing the deficit discourses about historically underserved and/or marginalized students; negotiating the world of high-stakes testing and standardization; connecting with and explaining one’s discipline to community members and district officials; and buffering oneself, reinventing, or subverting the system in order to be an advocate for one’s students. (p. 11)

How can mathematics teacher educators’ practices support the development of preservice teachers’ political knowledge? What opportunities do preservice teachers need in mathematics methods courses to develop political knowledge? What activities support the development of this kind of knowledge? What is the impact and residue of this kind of knowledge development?