This study aims to highlight the perspectives of one black male middle-school mathematics teacher, Chris Andrews, about developing black students’ positive mathematics identities during his first year of teaching middle-school mathematics in a predominately black school. The author’s and Chris Andrews’ shared experiences as black Americans opened the door to candid conversations regarding the racialized mathematical experiences of “our” children, as he referred to them during the interviews.
The author used case study methodology (Yin, 2009) to illuminate Chris’s salient academic and personal experiences, approaches to teaching mathematics and ways that he attended to mathematics identity in practice. The author used sociopolitical and intersectional theoretical framings to interpret the data.
Chris’s perspective on teaching mathematics and developing mathematics identity aligned with taking a sociopolitical stance for teaching and learning mathematics. He understood how oppression influenced his black students’ opportunities to learn. Chris believed teaching mathematics to black children was his moral and communal responsibility. However, Chris’s case is one of tensions, as he often espoused deficit perspectives about his students’ lack of motivation and mathematical achievement. Chris’s case illustrates that even when black teachers and black students share cultural referents; black teachers are not immune to the pervasive deficit-oriented theories regarding black students’ mathematics achievement.
The findings of this work warrant the need to take intersectional approaches to understanding the ways of knowing that black male teachers bring to their practice, as Chris’s identity as a black person was an interplay between his black identity and other salient identities related to ability and social class.
Chris, even while navigating deficit-oriented perceptions of his students, provides an example of bringing a sociopolitical consciousness to teaching mathematics and to support novice black male teachers in their content, pedagogical, and dispositional development.
This work adds to the limited body of literature that highlights the experiences of black teachers in a subject-specific context, particularly in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) subject areas that have historically marginalized the participation of black people.
Frank, T.J. (2018), "Teaching our kids: Unpacking an African-American mathematics teacher’s understanding of mathematics identity", Journal for Multicultural Education, Vol. 12 No. 2, pp. 144-160. https://doi.org/10.1108/JME-04-2017-0025Download as .RIS
Emerald Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited