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Mathematics and fantasies of effective practice

Hanley, Una and Jones, Elizabeth M. (2007) Mathematics and fantasies of effective practice. Contemporary issues in early childhood, 8 (1). pp. 61-72. ISSN 1463-9491

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Abstract

This article seeks to deepen understanding of the ways in which trainees account for and justify their practice. The area of particular interest to the authors is early years education where, in England at least, centrally issued governmental curriculum advice can be viewed as calling upon conflicting conceptions of education. The article reports on a study in which trainee teachers describe aspects of their training experience. The study sought to encourage the trainees to reflect on their professional beliefs and practices relating to their teaching of mathematics from a personal perspective. Yet this personal perspective was derived from experience on a course steeped in government prescription. The analysis not only centred on how the trainees’ rationalisations supported their beliefs and practices, but also on how these rationalisations struggled in certain areas. By drawing on the psychoanalytic theories of Jacques Lacan, the study sought to offer alternative accounts of how such rationalisations function in supporting the trainees’ understanding of themselves. This supports an analysis of how these rationalisations are built out of ‘personal’ fantasies of what it is to teach, and how these fantasies result from the trainees’ immersion in the discursive environment. Finally, the authors make clear the significance of such accounts in relation to their own role as tutors, where they are obliged to make decisions regarding the ‘professional effectiveness’ of trainee teachers.

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