for the learning of mathematics

an international journal of mathematics education

Richard Barwell - Vol. 43 Num. 0 (2023)
 Who is speaking? An exploration of voice and style in writing about mathematics classrooms


As mathematics educators, we devote much time and effort to writing about the learning and teaching of mathematics including, in particular, descriptions of mathematics learning in classrooms or other situations. There is an artistry to this writing that is designed to convince the reader that mathematics learning did (or did not) take place. This artistry involves stylistic choices and the careful combination of different voices from the research literature, from classrooms and other sites of learning. In this article, I take David Pimm’s Speaking Mathematically as a sample text to explore style and voice in writing about the learning and teaching of mathematics. I draw on concepts from Bakhtin’s literary theory, illustrated with excerpts from Dickens’s Hard Times, as well as from Speaking Mathematically, to show how the internal politics of writing about mathematics education is shaped by an external politics, in the form of competing discourses about mathematics education.