'We do it a different way at my school': Mathematics homework as a site for tension and conflict

RM Hughes, PM Greenhough

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This chapter draws on Wenger’s (1998) account of communities of practice to provide insights into the relationship between home and school mathematics practices and identities. The chapter presents and analyses an interaction between a 9-year-old boy and his mother as she attempts to help him with a mathematics homework task, consisting of a sheet of two-digit subtraction problems. The analysis reveals considerable tension and conflict at the boundary between home and school practices, as the different identities of mother and child negotiate with and challenge each other. These conflicts are exemplified by arguments about the appropriate methods for carrying out the subtractions, in which both participants justify their positions in terms of power and legitimacy instead of the underlying mathematical principles. One implication is that schools need to reconceptualise their approach to homework and parents’ role in supporting homework if such interactions are to be more supportive of children’s mathematics learning.
Translated title of the contribution'We do it a different way at my school': mathematics homework as a site for tension and conflict
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherKluwer Academic Publishers
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2007

Bibliographical note

Rose publication type: Book chapter

Sponsorship: The chapter draws on the ESRC/TLRP funded Home School Knowledge Exchange project (L139 25 1078) directed by the first author and rated ‘outstanding’.

Host Publication Title: New directions for situated cognition in mathematics education


  • homework
  • mathematics
  • situated learning
  • communities of practice
  • boundaries
  • identities


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