1 Science and Mathematics Education Research Group, The Faculty of Humanities, Aalborg University, VBN2 The Techno-Anthropology Research Group, The Faculty of Humanities, Aalborg University, VBN3 Department of Learning and Philosophy, The Faculty of Humanities, Aalborg University, VBN4 The Faculty of Engineering and Science, Aalborg University, VBN
Baldino and Cabral (2006) create a parody concerning exclusion in schools. The authors suppose that we enter an elementary school and ask the staff where “exclusion” happens. Who can answer such a question? Where to locate exclusion in schools? It seems as if exclusion has no “materiality”, no precise site where it is happening. It seems as if it is a name to represent some structural impalpable reality, resulting from several complex factors, having to do with teacher engagement with the students, with the quality of the mathematics learning, with issues of race, gender, and social class, with lack of resources, and so on. Equity is understood as a complex phenomenon involving several dimensions, not identifiable in some place or in some practice. From this perspective, achieving equity means to fight in different battles (for groups of people considered to be in disadvantage, inequity of resources, teacher formation, mathematical content for social justice, etc.). In this paper I shall argue that such dissemination of the problem of inequity disavows its materiality. Mathematics education as a research field will be used to illustrate how postmodern moves in educational research, and its emphasis on discourse and identity politics, functions as the necessary ideology of current capitalist schooling, by the way it provides a fantasy screen enabling research to perform as if the problem of exclusion could be solved by changing discourses alone. I draw on Lacanian psychoanalysis, particularly the contemporary reading of Lacan made by Žižek, to show how the real of schools—that is, its materiality, the fact that schools are economical places—has to be repressed by existing postmodern educational research—and its emphasis on discourse and identity politics— in order for research to be possible. The method used to analyze research can be called ideology critique, and is based on Žižek’s recent revitalization of this Marxist concept. It consists in showing the incongruities between the discourse emanating from research and its actualization within a life world context—in this case, schools. What normally runs well within the research discourse, when actualized in a specific practice, often encounters a series of obstacles which end up perverting the official intention. Usually research proceeds by eliminating such obstacles, so that the official aims can be fully actualized: equitable mathematics education, valorization of different cultures, useful and critical mathematics. However, an ideology critique sees these obstacles as symptomatic points which allow one to grasp the political and economical relevance of mathematics in the school system. Baldino, R., & Cabral, T. (2006). Inclusion and diversity from Hegel-Lacan point of view: Do we desire our desire for change? International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education, 4, 19-43. Vinner, S. (1997). From intuition to inhibition—mathematics education and other endangered species. In E. Pehkonen (Ed.), Proceedings of the 21th PME (Vol. 1, pp. 63-78). Helsinki: University of Helsinki. Žižek, S. (2008). For they know not what they do: Enjoyment as a political factor. [First edition 1991]. London. Verso.
Proceedings of the American Educational Research Association Annual Meeting, 2013
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AERA Books (American Educational Research Association)