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Intervening with Realistic Mathematics Education in England and the Cayman Islands—The Challenge of Clashing Educational Ideologies

Dickinson, P and Eade, F and Gough, S and Hough, S and Solomon, YJ (2019) Intervening with Realistic Mathematics Education in England and the Cayman Islands—The Challenge of Clashing Educational Ideologies. In: International Reflections on the Netherlands Didactics of Mathematics. ICME-13 Monograph Series . Springer, pp. 341-366. ISBN 978-3-030-20223-1

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Abstract

In this chapter, we discuss the issue of implementing Realistic Mathematics Education (RME) in the English education system over a number of years and education sectors. We also consider the experience of one of us in making a further move from England to the Cayman Islands, a British overseas territory with an education system that is influenced by British tradition but at the same time is distant from many of the politically driven accountability pressures and measures which we describe below. We illustrate first the challenges of developing an RME approach which is operable within the English system, highlighting the issues of student expectation, dominant didactic practices and assessment, all of which had an influence on what we were able to do. Second, we describe the outcomes of interventions in England at early secondary school level (age 12-14, Key Stage 3) and at General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) level (normally age 15-16, Key Stage 4, but also available in post-16 Education). Finally, Frank Eade describes his experience of building on our early work to develop an RME approach in the Cayman Islands. We conclude with a discussion of the lessons learned from these challenges; we argue that despite the problems we have encountered there are reasons to remain optimistic about the potential of an RME approach in the English system.

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