Discovering the Mathematical Discourse Community
Stacy Sieun Jang
Pasadena City College
STACC 1A
May 05 2014
**Abstract**
Mathematics is the language of life. A mathematical discourse community is defined as a group of people building a community of learners, encouraging each other as mathematicians, pressing and encouraging disequilibrium, promoting risk-taking and constructing a deeper understanding of the world of mathematics. From an expansive perspective, everyone belongs to the mathematical discourse community, however the mathematical discourse community, which is comprised of people at all mathematical levels, have problems arisen associated with a number of erroneous beliefs about math. Mathematics is often perceived as the most discoursing subject that a lot of people have trouble with. Women who are in this discourse community struggle for equity, respect, and acceptance because generally people believe men are better at doing mathematics. In addition to women mathematicians, ethnic minority students limited opportunities to get involved in the mathematical field due to others’ perceptions of their ability to do mathematics. Upper level mathematics classes are still populated with relatively few black and Latino students. Changing the early childhood math education with the idea of transforming mathematics classrooms into academic communities where students engage in mathematical discourse and collaborative learning and getting rid of the prejudiced comments on the subject especially for minority students and females will be possible solutions to the issues the discourse community is facing. A little bit more of people’s attention to the female mathematicians, minority students who lack the opportunities to get involved in advanced mathematics classes and the current mathematics educational system will help to develop the mathematical discourse community and foster future mathematicians.
*Keywords: mathematics, discourse community*
Formal Outline
I. Mathematics is one of the most useful and intensively interesting divisions of human knowledge, and various kinds of members exist in the mathematical discourse community.
A. Mathematicians who are the experts in or students of mathematics are the members of mathematical discourse community.
B. From an expansive perspective, everybody is a member of mathematical discourse community.
C. True members of mathematical discourse community have the ability to think creatively and flexibly and willingness to learn intensively.
II. A Linear Algebra course at PCC showcases some aspects of true mathematical discourse community.
A. A mathematical discourse community discourages the teacher-centered learning environment.
B. Working collaboratively in a mathematical discourse community allows the members to gain the ability to communicate their mathematical ideas with the proper mathematical language.
C. Being asked to not only solve but also prove the mathematical concepts helps the students develop their logical reasoning skills.
D. A true mathematical discourse community encourages the members to form small sub-discourse communities within the main discourse community.
III. Problems identified in the mathematical discourse community
A. The problems of mathematical discourse community are often associated with a number of erroneous beliefs about math.
B. Females struggle for equity, respect, and acceptance in the mathematical discourse community.
C. Ethnic minority students have not given equal opportunities to study upper level mathematics.
D. Inferior learning environment of mathematics makes people have negative attitude towards the subject mathematics.
E. The history of mathematics is generally not taught, and students doubt the importance of mathematics and the applicability of mathematical concepts.
Ⅳ How to improve the mathematical discourse community
A. People should be encouraged to consider the need to create a culture in which math is perceived as worthwhile and even enjoyable.
B. Math anxiety causes negative attitudes toward mathematics. Not only students, but also children mathematics educators need to develop confidence against the fear.
C. Changing the teacher-centered learning environment to the student-centered learning environment is important so that students can proactively communicate their mathematical ideas.
D. To build firm teacher-student interactions in a math class will bring the discouraged ethnic minority students and female students back to the mathematical discourse community.
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