Lessons for Mathematics Education From the Practices of African American Mathematics Teachers
by Paul Cobb & Kara Jackson — 2013
In this commentary, we discuss the lessons we learned from case studies of two African American mathematics teachers, thereby endorsing the claim made by the contributors to this special issue that the insights they gained are not restricted to mathematics teaching in nonselective urban schools but can also inform the field more generally. We then focus on differences in the two teachers’ goals for students’ mathematical learning and clarify that they were consequential and constrained the types of purposes that the teachers could convey to their students for engaging in mathematical activity. We go on to argue that high expectations for all students’ learning are not by themselves sufficient for their development of mathematical proficiency and discuss the importance of supporting teachers’ development of specific instructional practices that enable their students to meet those expectations. Finally, we suggest that it is critical to situate the ways in which teachers draw on their cultural resources with respect to the school and district settings in which they work and in which they refine and elaborate their instructional practices.
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