Feminist and Relational Mathematics Pedagogy

Although there are many different standpoints from which to view teaching mathematics, with equity being one of the dominant concepts of the NCTM’s standards in 2000, it has been paramount for teachers to view their teaching with a wider lens. It became apparent in the 1990’s that teachers of mathematics could foster a classroom that would be inclusive and create equity, not only with respect to gender, but social and learning differences regarding racial, ethinic and social economic class perpsective as well. Educational Theorists such as Maher, Gallagher, Weiler, and other feminists wrote about feminist pedagogy as a means of creating a classroom that allowed for more openness in questioning, response and freedom in risk-taking. In mathematics, Becker, Boaler, Burton and Solar research and created frameworks for feminist mathematics pedagogies that valued student voice and individual experience, strove to break down the hierarchical structure of authority in the classroom in order to allow for more student agency in the learning process. Solar’s (1995) Inclusive Mathematics Pedagogy posited an entire framework based on fair and equitable treatment within the mathematics classroom specifically of all learners, allowing them to have say in the learning process.

Instructional approaches that are based on this theoretical framework, interestingly have been shown to improve achievement and interest for females, and not hinder learning for males. Boaler (2006) extended the concept of this type of pedagogy and described another she calls “Relational Equity” which focuses learning on sharing ideas in a classroom of respect and equitable treatment. Boaler showed that this also improved learning and achievement for students of low SES. With such interesting results following this type of pedagogical shift, it seems to beg the question of why there are not more instructional approaches that lean more towards this type of philosophy.

The foundations of what I call the Pedagogy of Feminist Relation is the crux of the theoretical framework of my dissertation proposal. It also was part of another study that spurred the thoughts behind my dissertation study as well. As soon as those are more complete I will put more of them on the site publicly.