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“And That’s Just How It Starts”: Teaching Mathematics and Developing Student Agency


by Eric Gutstein — 2007

This article reports on a two-year qualitative, practitioner-research study of teaching and learning for social justice. The site was my middle-school mathematics classroom in a Chicago public school in a Latino/a community. A major pedagogical goal was to create conditions for students to develop agency, a sense of themselves as subjects in the world. My research suggests that students learned mathematics and began to develop sociopolitical awareness and see themselves as possible actors in society through using mathematics to understand social injustices. This research contributes to our understanding of how to create opportunities for students to develop agency in K-12 mathematics classrooms, and may also contribute to our knowledge of developing agency in any subject area.


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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 109 Number 2, 2007, p. 420-448
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 12799, Date Accessed: 12/13/2017 5:35:54 PM

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About the Author
  • Eric Gutstein
    University of Illinois-Chicago
    E-mail Author
    ERIC (RICO) GUTSTEIN teaches mathematics education at the University of Illinois-Chicago. His interests include teaching mathematics for social justice, Freirean approaches to teaching and learning, and urban education. He has taught middle and high school mathematics. Rico is a founding member of Teachers for Social Justice (Chicago) and is active in social movements. He is the author of Reading and Writing the World with Mathematics: Toward a Pedagogy for Social Justice (Routledge, 2006) and an editor of Rethinking Mathematics: Teaching Social Justice by the Numbers (Rethinking Schools, 2005).
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