Upper elementary mathematics curriculum in Turkey: a critical discourse analysis

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2012
Doğan, Oğuzhan
The purpose of this study was to trace the reflections of critical issues, such as neo-liberalism, cultural differences based on social class, gender stereotyping, and nationalism in the elementary mathematics education in Turkey. Critical discourse analysis was conducted to examine these possible reflections. By researching mathematics education from a critical perspective, this study aimed to contribute constructing a starting point for socially responsible mathematics education. There were four main data sources in the study: elementary mathematics curriculum, 6th, 7th, and 8th grade elementary mathematics textbooks, workbooks and teacher’s guide books, 7th grade mathematics classroom observations, and pre- and post-interviews with participant teacher. The discourse analysis of mathematics education contexts implied that elementary mathematics discourse: (i) oriented students to use their mathematical abilities and skills for the benefit of private corporations instead of public welfare; (ii) replaced the ‘real life’ in mathematics problems with the life of middle and upper middle classes; (iii) included sexist expressions; and (iv) fostered nationalism via ignoring ethnic and non-Muslim groups living in Turkey. It appeared that teachers might not be aware of such discourse. Findings have addressed that policy makers and textbook writers should consider these critical issues in order to reach all students and teachers’ awareness should be increased. Future research should clarify these issues in a broad sense including pre-service teachers, teachers, students, and mathematics instruction in schools.