Loving and Loathing: Portrayals of School Mathematics in Young Adult Fiction

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  • 1 Universidad de Chile

Images of mathematics and mathematicians are often negative and stereotyped. These portrayals may work to construct our impressions of mathematics and influence students' identity with and future participation in the subject. This study examined young adult fiction as a context in which school mathematics is portrayed and constructed. I used positioning theory and the notion of story lines to analyze a sample of 59 books. Portrayals of school mathematics within this sample involved multiple story lines, including school mathematics as being obligatory but not useful and mathematics classes as tense, terrible, difficult, and different but perhaps as places in which to find love. Portrayals of mathematics teachers were extremely stereotyped, and some girls were just as likely as boys to be positioned as able mathematics learners.

Contributor Notes

Lisa Darragh, Centre for Mathematical Modeling, University de Chile, Beauchef 851, Edificio Norte, Santiago, Chile; darraghlisa3@gmail.com

(Corresponding author is Darragh darraghlisa3@gmail.com)
Journal for Research in Mathematics Education


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