Asset-Based Approaches to Equitable Mathematics Education Research and Practice

In July 2017, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) released a new mission statement that shifts the organization's primary focus to supporting and advocating for the highest quality mathematics teaching and learning for all students. A key strategy for achieving this goal is to advance “a culture of equity where each and every person has access to high quality teaching and is empowered as a learner and doer of mathematics” (NCTM, 2017, “Strategic Framework,” para. 2). Increasing equity and ensuring the highest quality mathematics teaching and learning for all students requires systemic change (National Council of Supervisors of Mathematics [NCSM] & TODOS: Mathematics for ALL, 2016). As educators are called to enact NCTM's new mission, we acknowledge that such change is complex. We also acknowledge that our own experiences conducting equity work that is grounded in an asset-based approach are at different stages of development, ranging from beginning levels to lived experiences as diverse mathematics learners and mathematics education researchers. We see this change in mission as a call to both act politically (Aguirre et al., 2017) and to change story lines (i.e., “broad, culturally shared narrative[s]”; Herbel-Eisenmann et al., 2016, p. 104) that dominate the public perception of mathematics learning and teaching. We acknowledge that systemic barriers are part of a larger educational issue, but for the purposes of this commentary, we focus on mathematics.

Journal for Research in Mathematics Education

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