Finding ‘mathematics’: parents questioning school-centred approaches to involvement in children’s mathematics learning

Tim Jay, Jo Rose, Ben Simmons

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

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This paper reports a study of parental involvement in children's mathematics learning, in the context of a series of workshops carried out in four primary schools in the UK. Previous research suggests that, while there are high correlations between parental involvement and positive pupil outcomes, it can be difficult to raise pupil attainment via parental involvement interventions. We suggest that part of the reason for this, at least in relation to mathematics, is that parents experience considerable difficulties in negotiating school-centred definitions of, and approaches to, mathematics. We employed a design and analytic approach informed by Derridean concepts including decentring and différance. We encouraged parents to work with their children to ‘find the maths’ in everyday life and activity. A significant component of the discussion in each school involved sustained, critical reflection about the meaning of 'mathematics' and about parents' interpretations of parental involvement in children's education. We made sense of parents' discussions during the workshop by offering an account whereby parents grappled with mathematics as a socially constructed domain, dominated by school-centred ideology. As parents became more confident in their own analysis of the mathematics in everyday family life, they developed new strategies for sharing this mathematical thinking and awareness with their children. Implications for school parental-engagement strategies are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)201-230
Number of pages30
JournalSchool Community Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jun 2017


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