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an investigation of Mathematics textbooks

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4, 2002

and their Use in English, French and

German Classrooms: who gets an

opportunity to learn what?

BIRGIT PEPIN, Oxford Brookes University

ABSTRACT The article examines mathematics textbooks and their use in lower second-

ary classrooms in England, France and Germany. In particular, it looks at popular

selling textbooks in each country and their treatment of angle, and examines teachers

mediation of those books based on observation and interview of a small sample of

teachers in those countries. An analysis of the data suggests that learners in the different

countries are offered different mathematics and given different opportunities to learn

that mathematics, both of which are in uenced by textbook and teacher. In addition, it

identi es pupil access to textbooks in England as a cause for concern. It is argued that

mathematics classroom cultures need to be understood in terms of a wider cultural and

systemic context, in order for shared understandings, principles and meanings to be

established.

Introduction

In order to re ne our understandings of the teaching and learning cultures of the

mathematics classroom in different countries, we need to re ne our understandings of the

teachers, the learners, the materials used for learning and the interactions between them.

Each of these is in uenced, and in some cases determined, by the educational and

cultural traditions of the particular country in which the teaching and learning takes

place. The research reported here examines mathematics textbooks and the ways in

which they are used by teachers in lower secondary mathematics classrooms in England,

France and Germany.

Students spend much of their time in classrooms exposed to and working with

prepared materials, such as textbooks, worksheets and information and communications

ISSN 0141-192 6 (print)/ISSN 1469-351 8 (online)/02/040567-2 4 2002 British Educationa l Research Association

DOI: 10.1080/014119202200000583 2

568 L. Haggarty & B. Pepin

technology (ICT) materials. It is reasonable to argue, therefore, that such materials are

an important part of the context in which pupils and teachers work. It is also commonly

assumed that textbooks (with accompanying teacher guides) are one of the main sources

for the content covered and the pedagogical styles used in classrooms. It is not

surprising, then, that considerable attention has focused on textbooks, including the

economic and political circumstances of their production (Apple, 1986, 1992), their

linguistic features (Castell et al., 1989) and their sociological features (Dowling, 1996).

Many other factors also shape these situations, such as perceptions and beliefs about the

nature of mathematics, or about the teaching and learning of mathematics, but neverthe-

less, they all ow from the visions and intentions of particular systems.

Thus, the values and educational and cultural traditions which underpin such systems

make their way not only through teachers perceptions of the teaching and learning of

mathematics, and through their classroom practices, amongst other factors, but also

through of cial texts that are provided and, in some cases, authorised by the respective

countries.

The German as well as the Anglo-Saxon literature is clear about the fact that textbooks

are used extensively in the classroom. Keitel et al. (1980) claim that amongst the tools

for teaching and learning, the textbook is one of the oldest and also the most

controversial (p. 15, free translation). They claim that in any case the textbook is one

of the most important orientations [for the teacher] and the factor which in uences the

teachers work in its entirety (free translation). In England, Her Majestys Inspectorate

estimated that two-thirds of middle and secondary schools used a commercial mathemat-

ics scheme for Year 7 and Year 8 pupils (HMI, 1992) and Millett and Johnson (1996)

argue that mathematics has long been regarded by many teachers in Britain as a subject

for which the textbook, or commercial scheme, is the main resource. Evidence from

the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA)

Second International Mathematics Study (Robitaille & Garden, 1989) and the more

recent Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS, in Schmidt et al.,

1996) indicate that this is a worldwide phenomenon.

So how can we investigate textbooks, in particular mathematics textbooks, at lower

secondary level? Gilbert (1989) gives a brief review of traditional approaches and

criticises the reliance of research on text analyses removed from their context of use. He

argues that the analysis of text can point to potential, even likely, outcomes in classroom

use of texts, but it can never conclude with con dence that the ideological import of a

text as interpreted by the researcher will be similarly realised in the discourse of the

classroom (p. 68). Thus, textbooks should be analysed both in terms of their content and

structure, as well as in terms of the process component, i.e. their use in classrooms by

pupils and teachers.

The idea that a textbook re ects national curricular goals and, further, re ects and

legitimises national cultural traditions are well documented in the literature. Apple

(1986), for example, argues that the textbook often de nes what is elite and legitimate

culture to pass on (p. 81) and, in addition, that their widespread usage in classrooms has

the potential to exert a powerful in uence on pupils: Whether we like it or not, the

curriculum in most American schools is not de ned by courses of study or suggested

programs, but by one speci c artefact, the standardized, grade-level-speci c text in

mathematics (p. 85).

Use of Mathematics Textbooks 569

In another article, Apple (1992) asserts that texts are not simply delivery systems

of facts. They are the simultaneous results of political, economic, and cultural

activities, batties, and compromises p. 4). In the same article, he also quotes A. Graham

Down of the Council for Basic Education:

Textbooks, for better or worse, dominate what students learn. They set the

curriculum, and often the facts learnt, in most subjects. For many students,

textbooks are their rst and sometimes only early exposure to books and to

reading. The public regards textbooks as authoritative, accurate, and necessary.

And teachers rely on them to organise lessons and structure subject matter. But

the current system of textbook adoption has lled our schools with Trojan

horsesglossily covered blocks of paper whose words emerge to deaden the

minds of our nations youth, and make them enemies of learning. (p. 6).

Similar views are expressed by Castell et al. (1989), who argue that:

Of the many kinds of texts available to the modern reader, the school textbook

holds a unique and signi cant social function: to represent to each generation

of students an of cially sanctioned, authorised version of human knowledge

and culture. Within the context of compulsory public schooling in industrial

and post-industrial cultures, textbooks form shared cultural experiences, at

times memorable and edifying, while at others eminently forgettable and

uneducational. (p. vii)

Stray (1994), in an article about school texts, claims that textbooks can be conceived

as a focal element in processes of cultural transmission (p. 1) and asserts:

Text is of course a contested category Textbooks are the bearers of

messages, which are multiply coded. In them, the coded meanings of a eld of

knowledge (what is to be taught ) are combined with those of pedagogy

(how anything is to be taught and learnt). With the development of a capitalist

system of production, these messages are conveyed through production,

distribution and consumption of commodities. (p. 2)

Thus, it appears that textbooks re ect a nations cultural values and that textbooks in this

study will have embedded in them, and will legitimise, the different cultural educational

values of England, France and Germany. But what is decisive is not only the system of

ideas and beliefs that textbooks re ect, but the whole processas practically organised

by particular and signi cant meanings and valuesthat is lived in the classroom.

Suggestions for analyses of the mathematical knowledge in textbooks are provide by Van

Dormolen (1986) and by Schmidt et al. (1996, 1997). Van Dormolen suggests, for

example, that in analysing a text, one might look for the extent to which it has each of

the following: a theoretical aspect (theorems, de nitions, axioms); an algorithmical

aspect (explicit how to do ); a logical aspect (rules about how we are and are not

allowed to handle theory); a methodological aspect (how to do more heuristically;

for example, how to use mathematical induction); a communicative aspect (conventions,

or how to write down an argument, for example). Schmidt et al., on the other hand,

classify an understanding of the content in terms of its: topic complexity (which topics;

when; which emphasised; with what conceptual demands); developmental complexity

(ways of sequencing and developing topics across lessons and across the whole

570 L. Haggarty & B. Pepin

cognitive complexity (the pedagogical intention for the topic, i.e. what you want the

students to do as a result of having learnt the topic).

Dowling (1996, 1998) carried out a sociological analysis of texts in common use in

Britain. He chose textbooks from the SMP (School Mathematics Project) 1116 scheme,

and in addition, because textbooks in the scheme were targeted at pupils of perceived

ability levels, he chose to analyse one designed for relatively high achievers (the Y

series) and another designed for relatively low-achieving pupils (the G series). The

results of his analysis suggest that there are differences, for example, in content, levels

of abstraction, in treatment of topics, in expectations and in aspirations of its target

audience. Since these differences match, to a large extent, stereotypes within the culture,

his work is particularly relevant for this study, since there is differentiation in Germany

in relation to school form, differentiation in England, frequently in relation to setting

policies in schools, but no differentiation in France.

Dowling examines the sociocultural factors relating to textbooks, but Nickson (2002)

argues that over the past decade and a half, sociocultural factors have come to dominate

mathematics education more generally at a variety of levels. At the broader level, the

society in which a given mathematics classroom is situated affects the teaching and

learning that takes place as well as the mathematics that is taught. At the level of the

individual, the cultural diversity within a class may mean that some of them bring a

different approach to understanding concepts that are culturally determined (Ginsburg et

al., 1997 in Nickson, 2002). The pupils world is essentially the community in which

they live and forms much of their reality, and mathematics will be meaningful (or not)

if children see its relevance to their world (Skovsmose, 1994).

Alongside this shift has been a change in perceptions of the nature of mathematics

from a given, abstract body of knowledge that exists out there, to one that is seen as

social in its origins and its applications (Leman, 1990; Ernest, 1991; Nickson, 1992,

2002; Nickson & Lerman, 1992). It is recognised that mathematics, just as any other

subject, has evolved as a result of human activity, and as a subject, it grows and changes

through problem-solving, trial and error and the interpersonal exchange of ideas.

Corresponding theories of learning suggest that:

children are no longer seen as receivers of knowledge but makers of it, in that

they are actively engaged in selecting, absorbing and adjusting what they

experience in the world around them. It follows, then, that to learn mathemat-

ics children must be put in situations where they have to mathematise and so

be involved in doing it. The second major implication of constructivism

follows from this which is that, in order to mathematise, children need to

experience mathematics in a context other than a purely mathematical one. In

order to make sense of the mathematics they meet in school, to access it and

make it their own, they have to link it with the reality of their world and what

they already know. (Nickson, 2002, p. 233)

With respect to the use of textbooks by teachers and pupils, there appear to be ve main

areas under which the emerging themes from the literature can be usefully organised: (1)

the authority of textbooks; (2) who uses the textbooks; (3) how textbooks are used; (4)

Use of Mathematics Textbooks 571

the teacher as the mediator of the text; and, nally, (5) educational traditions as a

potential in uence of what happens in classrooms.

Olson (1989) talks of the school text as the authorised version of societys valid

knowledge . Assuming that schooling aims to transmit to each new generation culturally

signi cant knowledge , school textbooks seem to be an ideal format. Yet there is a

distinction to be made between the reader and the author. Olson views textual language

as a device for managing authority, in the sense that, by separating the speaker from

the author, the text is made impersonal, objective and above criticism.

These practices result in another phenomenon: the identi cation of textbooks with

courses or teachers. Since students, by and large, do not identity textbooks with authors

(or groups of authors), but rather with teacher explanations, the teacher becomes the

quasi-author of what was taught from the textbook. The textbook thus becomes more

closely associated with the teacher and the subject content, which is authoritatively

prescribed, and teachers embody and reconstitute the textbook in use (Luke et al., 1989).

However, one might also assume that teachers mediate the knowledge in the text and

that the student is in a subordinate position to the teacher. Authorised information

becomes associated with teachers explanations. As students are not within the appropri-

ate and sanctioned group to be entitled to criticise the school text, teachers mediation

becomes authoritative.

Furthermore, Luke et al. (1989, p. 258) argue that because in the classroom teachers

refer to textbooks as the blue book, or get your textbook out, for example, teachers

detach authorshiptherefore fallibilityfrom the text, and therefore give the text even

more authority. Since the teacher mediates the knowledge in the text, text and teacher

can be seen to co-constitute a domain of knowledge, and to co-constitute one authoritat-

ive identity.

Who Uses Textbooks and Who Makes the Decision on Who Uses Them?

Although the German literature claims that educational reforms aimed to put the pupil

in the centre of the mediation between knowledge and textbook (pupil books ), in

reality, even after the 1968 reforms, the pupil books were written for teachers and the

educational theories were addressed to the teacher (Keitel et al., 1980). Empirical studies

(Hopf, 1977, in Keitel et al., 1980) showed that only about 52% of teachers used any

other literature for lesson planning in addition to the textbook. In other words, 48% used

only the school textbook for their lesson preparation. Hopf also claimed that the textbook

was used mainly by the teachers as a guideline, very little by pupils, and that teachers

stayed closer to the textbook the longer they were in service and the less complete they

saw their education. The American literature (for example, Kuhs & Freeman, 1979), in

a similar vein, explains that about 50% of teachers teach textbook bound. Therefore,

although the textbook seems to in uence the lesson to a large extent, it appears that it

is rarely used as a pupil book.

Concerning what teachers value about textbooks, Keitel et al. (1980) report on a series

of interviews they conducted with teachers about textbooks and their use. Their teachers

572 L. Haggarty & B. Pepin

made some interesting points: they felt that a short and precise knowledge storage part

was important for them, but most important, in their view, was the quality and

differentiation of exercises. Unfortunately, they said, textbooks were not suitable for

pupils for revision purposes. The main point of the value placed on exercises and

problems for lessons was also highlighted by teachers in another study on English,

French and German teachers (Pepin, 1997).

Teachers act as mediators of the text: they decide which textbook to use; when and

where the textbook is to be used; which sections of the textbook to use; the sequencing

of topics in the textbook; the ways in which pupils engage with the text; the level and

type of teacher intervention between pupil and text; and so on.

Teacher as mediator of the text is an idea which is explored in the literature. Both

Johnsen (1993) and Van Dormoien (1986), for example, refer to studies which suggest

that teachers use all kinds of textbooks in all kinds of ways, and comment that whilst

textbooks control what happens in the classroom to a large extent, they do not do so in

ways envisioned by the authors of the texts. Johnsen (1993) classi es teachers as faithful

followers of the textbook lesson by lesson, with little or no time on supplementary

material; or followers of the plan and progression of the textbook but selective in its use;

or those who break from content and structure and add supplementary material.

The mediatory role of teachers extends beyond that of content selection and includes

decisions about wider pedagogical issues. Indeed, the teacher may act as mediator of the

authority of the text; mediator or provider of the metadiscourse of the text; mediator of

the language and explanations of the text. In addition, the teacher might offer additional

explanations, materials or examples.

The level of mediation of textbooks in England, France and Germany has not been

studied systematically. However, Schmidt et al. (1996) report that as part of the TIMSS

study, they observed lessons in which there was heavy reliance on the textbook in

Norway, Spain and the USA: In all these cases, the mathematics presented in the class

appears as an authoritative body of knowledge to which students and teachers must

hold. In France, on the other hand, the frequency with which teachers departed from

a strict reliance on the textbook was evidence of classrooms centred on teacher expertise

(p. 91).

However, although there has been no systematic study in England, a comment from

HMI suggests that little mediation may actually take place:

Many schools used a commercial mathematics scheme, and while they were

often valuable in providing structure for mathematics courses there was undue

reliance on them in most schools. The consequences included a lack of

differentiation; mathematics learning based on texts with pupils carrying out

step-by-step instructions rather than on contexts; restricted mathematical

thinking; and poorly developed understanding. (HMI, 1991, p. 22)

When preparing to develop research instruments to explain and understand cross-national

differences in student achievement in TIMSS, Schmidt et al. (1996) describe how they

and colleagues from countries involved in the study found that early in the development

Use of Mathematics Textbooks 573

stage, it became clear that the assumptions brought to investigations of classrooms and

what occurs in them were not always the same. Quite simply, the questions which

seemed relevant for researchers working in one country to ask seemed irrelevant to those

in another. They concluded that it was necessary to develop a common language and

understanding of classrooms in the various countries. Indeed, they further argued that

whilst developing an understanding of classrooms is important, what happens there is

in uenced by each systems decisions about speci c visions, aims and goals which are

expressed in National Curricular materials and resources. Harries and Sutherland (1998)

have also studied primary textbooks, with the particular focus on the treatment of

number, in ve countries (England, France, Hungary, Singapore, USA), and from this

they argue that in England, we need to pay more attention to the use of all forms of

representing mathematics on the written page, which means analysing the complexity

of learning mathematics, and how mathematics has to be transformed in order to be

presented to pupils. Research associated with TIMSS, and in particular that related to

textbooks in secondary mathematics classrooms (Schmidt, et al., 1996, 1997), did not

include England or Germany.

In connection with TIMSS, Howson (1995) presented his analysis of mathematics

textbooks for 13 year-old students from eight of the countries participating in the study

(and including England this time). He selected one text for each country, which he does

not regard as representative of those found in a particular country. Thus, he claims that

the texts studied provide indications and messages, but are not determinants of

national characteristics or necessarily of classroom practice (p. 13). More recently,

Foxman (1999) reviewed some ndings from TIMSS relating to mathematics textbooks

and their use in 16 countries, excluding Germany and for some parts also England. He

believes that the TIMSS, Howson, and Harries and Sutherland studies would need to be

supplemented by studies of [textbooks] actual usage in a range of classrooms, in order

to provide a representative picture of a country.

The Study

The choice of a comparative enquiry was important, in the sense that cross-national

comparisons were perceived to help to sharpen the focus of analysis by suggesting new

perspectives (Hantrais & Mangen, 1996). The decision to focus on mathematics

textbooks in England, France and Germany was taken because the education systems of

those countries were among the most in uential in Europe (McLean, 1990). In addition,

some important work both in terms of knowledge of the respective education systems

and insights into mathematics teachers pedagogies (principles and practices) at second-

ary level in these three countries had already been carried out by the researchers.

The study, rstly, investigates the similarities and differences of mathematics text-

books at lower secondary level in the three countries. The aim is to understand the range

of ways in which commonly taught topics in secondary mathematics are addressed in

textbooks, in order to widen our understanding of how mathematics is perceived in the

different contexts, and of the pedagogical intentions of mathematics textbooks. Sec-

ondly, the research explores the ways mathematics teachers use textbooks in English,

French and German secondary classrooms. The aim is to develop an understanding of the

relationships between the mathematical and pedagogical intentions re ected in text-

books, teachers use of those textbooks, teacher pedagogies and the different facets of

educational traditions in the three countries.

In line with the two main aims of this study, namely, to explore mathematics

574 L. Haggarty & B. Pepin

textbooks and mathematics teachers use of textbooks in the classroom, the methodology

of this study has two strands. Firstly, the textbook analysis strand uses a schedule which

draws on the range of ideas in the literature, and which has been devised to examine

mathematics textbooks in the three countries. What has been attempted in this analysis

schedule for textbooks of the three countries isby drawing on ideas from the

literatureto arrive at a comprehensive set of questions for the analysis of texts in terms

of the wider intentions and characteristics than those explicitly stated in the textbooks.

Secondly, the semi-structured interview strand provides an opportunity to explore

teachers views underpinning their use of textbooks in the classroom, in combination

with classroom observation, in order to be able to triangulate the data gained through

interviews.

Textbooks which were identi ed as the ones most frequently purchased for years 7

(6e` me, Jahrgang 6), 8 (5e` me, Jahrgang 7) and 9 (4e` me, Jahrgang 8)[1] were chosen for

general analysis, using statistics produced by publishers and ministries of education. The

topics of angle and directed numbers were selected for detailed analysis, because they

were regarded as relatively self-contained and likely to be taught as new topics,

particularly in years 7 and 8. There was also reference to years 9 and 10 in terms of

follow-up of topics and coherence through the years.

In terms of textbook use, in each country ve schools were selected on the basis of

similarity of size and catchment area, and two teachers were observed for a day and then

interviewed in each school. Interviews were also conducted with associated professionals

(inspectors and teacher educators, for example), in order to triangulate the teacher

interview data with that of other participants in the educational settings. Given that 10

teachers (in ve schools) were interviewed in each country, it is important to acknowl-

edge that it is impossible to claim generalisability over the three countries. However,

from the data collected it was possible to generalise across the cases.

The particular focus explored in this article is:

1. what mathematics is made available in textbooks;

2. how the mathematics in textbooks is mediated by teachers;

3. what access pupils have to textbooks.

Findings

Background Information

France. In lower secondary years in a mathematics classroom in France, there is no

grouping of pupils either by perceived ability or achievement. Rather, all pupils in a

particular class are given opportunities to learn the same mathematics, with each topic

studied for the same amount of time by all pupils, from the same textbook supplied by

the school. The textbook belongs to the pupil for the academic year and is therefore

available for their use at home and in school. All teachers we interviewed in France told

us they used the textbook most, if not all, of the time in their lessons, and as their main

resource for lesson preparation.

Textbooks are mainly written by mathematics inspectors in France (who regularly

inspect mathematics teachers and, partly on the basis of this inspection, determine the

speed at which each teacher moves up the salary scale), and therefore re ect the

pedagogical concerns and emphases of those inspectors. The traditional cours magis-

tral (lecture types of lessons) has almost entirely been replaced by lessons organised in

three parts: the activity (cognitive activities that are given to introduce the main notion

Use of Mathematics Textbooks 575

to be studied); the cours (the essential part of the lesson); and the exercises. All

textbooks analysed re ected this structure, whichever publisher, and teachers said that

the change from the traditional structure had been introduced originally by inspectors,

professional development courses and teachers journals. It could be argued that it was

in teachers interests to follow the advice offered by inspectors, and certainly teachers

interviewed all had the perception that this was how lessons should be structured. Thus,

textbooks represented best pedagogical practice amongst a signi cant group of math-

ematics educators, and teachers based most, if not all, of their teaching on them.

We analysed the three best-selling textbooks in France and noticed that they each had

sections outlining how they were structured, with each chapter having, typically,

activites, lessentiel, exercises. The purpose of each was explained, and in particular,

the reader was told that the exercises had four sections, each with its own objectives: to

consolidate; to apply the ideas in the core or essential part of the chapter; to read,

understand, and communicate the ideas and to become familiar with speci c vocabulary,

expressions and conventions; and nally, to solve problems which required more

re ection and initiative.

Germany. At age 10 in Germany, pupils are allocated, according to parents wishes and

teachers recommendations, to the Hauptschule, the Realschule, or the Gymnasium.

Whilst the rst two have a vocational orientation towards education, the last has a much

more academic tradition and prepares pupils for entry to university. About 20% of an age

cohort attend the Hauptschule. Although the core curriculum for mathematics in

Germany is similar for all pupils, the mathematics is treated in different ways, with proof

and cognitive challenge being important in the Gymnasium and the use of algorithms to

apply mathematical ideas being emphasised in the Hauptschule and Realschule. There

are different textbooks for each school type and in this research we predominately

looked at teachers and the textbooks used in the Gymnasium and the Hauptschule.

Textbooks are not supplied by the school and it is expected that parents will buy them,

unless they have nancial dif culties. This results in pressure from parents on teachers

to stick to the same book year on year to reduce their costs when they have a number

of children. At the same time, it means that pupils then have access to the textbook both

at school and at home since it literally belongs to them. The school itself decides on the

textbooks to be purchased by parents from a list supplied by the ministry of the Land.

Since teachers therefore work from textbooks on an approved list, they tend to assume

that there is appropriate coverage of the National Curriculum, and therefore said that

they relied mainly on the texts to determine what was to be taught.

Textbooks in the Gymnasium and Hauptschule have a very formal appearance, with

grey hardback covers. Given that they are for particular school forms, they look

remarkably similar and even a cursory glance con rms that they follow essentially the

same core curriculum. Pages themselves are densely packed with information or

exercises, and the exercises are laid out in two columns on a page, with extensive use

of language and some use of diagrams. There are few worked examples.

England. Pupils in England in this study were all in comprehensive schools, but were put

in sets for mathematics during their rst year in secondary school according to their

results in National Curriculum tests. Once in those sets, they followed the same National

Curriculum but from different starting points and with different end points in mind.

Textbooks re ect this way of organising pupils, so that in any year group, a particular

textbook scheme might have different textbooks aimed at different sets of pupils.

576 L. Haggarty & B. Pepin

Textbooks were sometimes supplied by the school, but pupil access to those textbooks

was often restricted. This is explored further below. There was no expectation that pupils

would buy their own, except, occasionally, if they were aiming for high General

Certi cate of Secondary Education (GCSE) passes in Key Stage 4.

What is particularly distinctive about the popular selling textbooks analysed in this

study compared with the French and German equivalents is the avoidance of language

in general, and in the exercises, therefore, the lack of questions set in context. In some

texts, there were a number of pages with no words on at all. In addition, almost all

question types have a worked example of the same type preceding them. For example,

in one text, the worked exampleIf you start by facing north and turn clockwise, draw

a sketch to show roughly the direction in which you are facing if you turn through 60

(with an accompanying diagram)is followed by 12 questions which begin, if you start

by facing north and turn clockwise, draw a sketch to show roughly the direction in which

you are facing if you turn through (STP 7A, p. 185).

There is no approved list of textbooks in England.

In order to better exemplify the points being made here, we have chosen to focus on the

way in which textbooks approach the topic of measuring angles, which is addressed in

textbooks in year 7 (6e`me, Jahrgang 6). The reader is then able to get a feel for how

the texts vary across the three countries.

France. Not only is the mathematics in the French texts comprehensive but it is also

presented in situations and contexts which are cognitively challenging. Pupils are

actively encouraged by their teachers to use their book as a resource for their learning.

Whilst it goes beyond the scope of this article to comment on the extent to which the

textbook was able to meet the needs of individual learners, particularly the lowest

attainers, there is no doubt that all pupils have full access, in school and at home, to

stimulating mathematical ideas. Teachers, who in turn use the textbook a great deal both

in their planning and teaching of lessons, draw on the textbook for both mathematical

and pedagogical ideas. It is then seen by them as their responsibility to try to meet

the needs of individuals within their classrooms, although of overriding importance is the

need for all pupils to have access to, and in so far as it is possible to understand, the

same mathematical ideas.

Measuring angles is addressed in three different parts of a 14-page chapter on angles

and there are approximately three pages of explanation on how to measure angles before

the exercise begins. The questions in the exercise contain a number of interesting

features (see Fig. 1).

Technical vocabulary is used extensively; for example: protractor; equality; set square;

semi-line (essentially a half-open line segment); quadrilateral; increasing size; angle;

measure; add, draw; construct; triangle; general triangle; circle; diameter; straight line;

half.

Relatively complex mathematical notation is included; for example; [Ox) to indicate

to represent angles (in fact,

a semi-line, [AB] to indicate a nite line; both c and ABC

the textbook makes a distinction between ABC and ABC, where the latter is the re ex

angle).

The explanation preceding the exercise is complete in the sense that at least in theory

pupils could do the questions here without additional support.

Use of Mathematics Textbooks 577

578 L. Haggarty & B. Pepin

Six of the eight questions ask for pupil comments on what they notice as a result of

engaging in the question, which gives them encouragement to conjecture and make

generalisations.

There are connections made with other topics in mathematics; for example,

quadrilaterals, triangles, the circle theorems; as well as encouragement to use the

mini-dictionary (qu. 11) at the back of the textbook to look up the de nition of a

quadrilateral.

situations and what pupils are to learn. For example, in drawing and measuring angles,

the Hauptschule textbook, Einblicke Mathematick 6 (1997, p. 71) describes the important

role of re ghters and the need for a mechanic to ensure that the ladder is extended at

appropriate angles given the load carried in the basket at the end. There is a photograph

and diagram accompanying the text and, given the ndings examined later in relation to

English texts, it is useful to note that despite Hauptschule teachers concerns for

language demands on pupils, the explanation runs to almost 100 words.

Measuring angles is addressed in an 18-page chapter on geometry, which includes an

explanation of how to measure angles using a geo-triangle, and practice at measuring

angles occupies about two pages of the chapter. Fig. 2 is an example page from the

chapter and contains some interesting features.

There are actually 58 questions on the page where pupils have to use their geo-triangle

to measure or draw angles. There are more opportunities later in the exercise for

further practice.

Text and diagrams are dense on the page.

Technical vocabulary includes scale, size of angle, degree, measure, draw,

geo-triangle, to extend a side, degree scale, acute, obtuse, re ex, full angle, straight

angle, and angles are marked with Greek symbols.

The explanation preceding the exercise is complete in the sense that at least in theory

pupils could do the questions here without additional support.

Pupils are not required to speculate and most questions require low-level applications

of the skill (although there are no worked examples preceding the exercise). Questions

are simply there to be done.

Later questions in the exercise involve measuring angles in polygons, although the

polygons are not named and pupils are not asked to move beyond measurement of the

angles.

within an 18-page chapter on angle. Approximately four pages are devoted to the

drawing and measurement of angles. Fig. 3 shows a page from an exercise containing

21 questions. It also has some interesting features.

There are approximately 120 opportunities to draw or measure angles within this

subset of the exercise.

Technical language demands are similar to those in the Hauptschule textbook.

Questions are closed and opportunities are not taken within the text for further

exploration and conjecture (for example, questions 12,[2], 13[3] and 14[4]). They are

simply there to be done.

There are links with coordinates, quadrilaterals and triangles

Use of Mathematics Textbooks 579

England. Textbooks in England are less densely packed and contain fewer examples

than textbooks in either France or Germany. Examples are almost always closed

and usually follow on from a worked example almost identical to questions in the

exercise. Pages are much less densely packed and there is less use of language, both

580 L. Haggarty & B. Pepin

Keymaths (2000, p. 220 in 72 and p. 216 in 71) writes under Introducing angles: The

pirate ship turns one way. It then turns back the other way before moving on to an

exercise on clockwise and anti-clockwise turns. This contrasts sharply with the

Hauptschule example given earlier.

Use of Mathematics Textbooks 581

25-page chapter in 72. Both books have soft covers (unlike the French and German ones)

and look remarkably similar. However, close inspection reveals that 72 is targeted at

582 L. Haggarty & B. Pepin

higher sets than 71. In Fig. 4, the page is given for 72 and differences between this and

71 are identi ed below.

There is no explanation of how to use a protractor so that pupils would nd the

questions impossible without external mediation of the text.

Question 10 in exercise 10:4 is marked with a purple spot. There is no indication in

the text what this signi es, but since the question is missing from 71, it can be

assumed that it is considered more dif cult. The other difference between the texts is

that the sentence Compare your answers with your estimates is missing from 71, the

lower level text. It would be dif cult to argue that these modi cations address the

comment on the back cover that the text is clearly differentiated for all abilities.

Questions are of a low level and there is no obvious scope for extending them. They

are simply there to be done.

There is no notation used for naming angles.

There are just 21 opportunities to draw or measure angles (18 for lower-level pupils)

on the page, although there are further opportunities later in the chapter.

Only one question is put in context, and this is omitted from the lower-level text.

Keymaths also provides a Teacher File (1995) to fully support and enhance material

covered in the pupil books. As well as containing Homework Sheets (and Answers) for

questions which are very similar to those in the textbook, there are also assessment

sheets for pupils and, in the case of angle, some comments directed to the teacher.

For example, in relation to measuring angles, teachers are told that Points of

emphasis are: Necessity for estimating before measuring angles as protractors have two

scales. Remember to start at 00 on the protractor (p. 260). In the Notes for the

non-specialist, we are told further that:

Most protractors and angle measurers have a clockwise and anti-clockwise

scale.

Some circular protractors have other scales.

A blackboard protractor or angle measurer is useful to demonstrate how to

measure and draw angles.

Always make pupils estimate angles before measuring, as this helps them

decide which protractor scale to use.

When drawing angles using a protractor it is better to make a mark in the

direction of the line to be drawn, than a dot. (p. 260)

Useful supplementary ideas include a reference to the exercise associated with question

10 in the middle of Fig. 4 above. Their suggestion is that after estimating and

subsequently measuring angles: a grading system of even [sic] points could be

introduced for pupils to measure their performance: e.g. within 50, excellent, 2 points;

within 100, good, 1 point. (p. 260) Although it is clear that this guidance supports the

approach taken in the textbook, it is less clear that it enhances the approach in relation

to the teaching and learning of this particular topic.

An opportunity sample of 10 teachers was each observed for a day in each country and

the teachers were also interviewed. It is recognised that this is a small sample, so any

generalisations made should be treated with some caution until more extensive data are

available.

Use of Mathematics Textbooks 583

France. Teachers in this study used the textbook in different ways. Some used them

mainly for exercises, others for activities, and even (though not often) for the cours.

Most mathematics teachers in the study in France saw it as their responsibility to

prepare the cours of the lesson, and drew on a number of textbooks and other sources

for its preparation. Pupils kept a copy of the cours presented to them in their cahier

de cours and many teachers mentioned that they encouraged pupils to compare their

cours with that of the textbook. Many also said that at the beginning of the year they

explained the outline and structure of the textbook, the different kinds of exercises, the

dictionary at the end of the book, the relevant statements from the National Curriculum

for the particular year (often included in textbooks), and they initiated tasks where pupils

had to search through the books for information. They believed that in this way pupils

would be obliged to use the book, with the longer-term aim that it should become a

resource for them in their learning.

Given that all pupils in a class are engaged in the preliminary activities and the

courswhere it is expected that all pupils should be given the opportunity to learn and

understand itthey are therefore exposed to the same cognitive and language demands

as each other at these stages. Differentiation takes place during the exercise phase of the

lesson, when teachers interviewed seemed genuinely concerned with identifying and

providing pupils with appropriately challenging exercises, and in such a way that every

pupil has the opportunity to understand. Teachers appreciated that textbooks had

graduated exercises which were organised in particular ways (sechauffer,

sentrainer). Observations showed that in general all pupils were given the same

questions to do, and teachers would talk to individuals if they thought that they needed

either stretching with some more dif cult questions, or the kinds of questions changed

to easier ones. It was assumed that some pupils might not be able to complete all the

parts of the particular questions set. Outside whole class time, support classes were set

up to help those pupils with dif culties. However, there were indications of streaming

higher up the school where, for example, in year 10, special classes were set up for

different options (languages, work-related, etc.)

Germany. Traditionally, textbooks have been used differently in mathematics in the

different kinds of schools (and teachers have usually gone through different kinds of

teacher preparation programmes to teach in the different schools). Thus although all

German teachers said that they used the approved textbooks to prepare their lessons,

their use of them in the lessons varied.

Those who used the textbook very little in lessons were exclusively Gymnasium

teachers. It appeared that for the pupils in the Gymnasium, who were usually the high

achievers, an exclusive use of the textbook was not seen as appropriate. Textbooks here

were used mainly for exercises. It was also expected in the Gymnasium that teachers

talked about the mathematics in a more or less conversational style, and did not stick to

the book, and this was regarded by them as an opportunity to use their pedagogical skills.

The discussion and exploration of mathematics in a conversational styleand without

reference to the textbookwas a strong feature of mathematics teaching in this school

type.

The Hauptschul teachers saw it as a prerequisite for pupils that they brought the

textbook, their exercise book and their pencil case for every lesson. Indeed, the textbook

was almost viewed by some teachers as essential for the lower attaining pupils: this is

a mathematics lesson and these are the items that need to be brought for the lesson.

The Hauptschul teachers in general followed the textbook more closely than their

Gymnasium colleagues. They felt that this was necessary because pupils were perceived

584 L. Haggarty & B. Pepin

as not being able to cope with too many deviations from the straightforward mathemat-

ical algorithms. For example, questions which included text where situations were

described in words and needed to be translated into mathematical terms were regarded

by the teachers as generally too hard for the Hauptschul children. It was further

claimed that their children could either read or understand, but not both at the same

time.

A particular feature of German Hauptschul teachers was that they changed their lesson

style and the use of textbooks according to the perceived ability of the children: the

lower the perceived ability of pupils, the more textbooks were used. Furthermore, and

this was consistent with observations, teachers spent relatively little time explaining and

developing mathematical ideas, but rather more on short, recipe-like teaching of

algorithms followed by exercises. On the other hand, with the higher achieving pupils

in the Hauptschule, teachers style resembled that of the Gymnasium with its emphasis

on the whole class development of ideas.

As far as pupils were concerned, they had different access to mathematical ideas

depending on the school form they attended: once this was decided, everything else

followed. The focus for the teacher in a Gymnasium was to offer appropriately

challenging mathematics given the school type, not necessarily being too concerned with

attempting to meet the needs of an individual pupil within that school type. On the other

hand, a pupil in a Hauptschule, even though it is possible to transfer to the Gymnasium

at the end of school form, would have been given an experience closer to that offered

in the textbook they had available, and with an emphasis on the practice of routine

alogrithms rather than an exploration of overarching and challenging ideas in mathemat-

ics.

England. Teachers in the study in England all said that they used textbooks regularly,

and almost all that use in lesson times was for pupils to practise exercises selected by

the teacher following on from teacher explanation of a particular skill or technique.

Outside lessons, teachers used the textbook differently. Heavy users of the textbook in

class relied on the textbook to provide them with most of the materials and ideas they

would use in their lessons. Other teachers talked about referring to a range of textbooks

or worksheets or previous ideas and experiences to help guide their thinking and

planning. However, an increasing lack of time was frequently mentioned as an inhibitor

to lesson planning, so that almost all reported an increasing reliance on their textbook.

Thus, whilst more experienced teachers talked about drawing on a bank of ideas to plan

their lessons, they said that less experienced teachers and non-specialist teachers were

more likely to have to rely solely on the textbook given the range and complexity of

demands made on them. Unfortunately, we were unable to follow this up to test their

assertion. However, in the light of the textbook demands in Fig. 4 and the advice offered

in the Teacher File noted earlier, it is an extremely worrying situation indeed if this were

the case more generally, since pupils would have to rely on an impoverished and

restricted mathematical diet.

All the teachers considered that it would be impossible to use the same textbook with

all pupils in a year group. Instead, they talked about the need for different textbooks for

high, for intermediate-and for low-ability pupils. High-ability pupils were said to need

exercises with interesting and challenging questions and, perhaps, some explanation.

Intermediate pupils were said to need plenty of straightforward questions practising

particular skills or techniques. The perceived needs of low-ability pupils were heavily

in uenced by concerns about context, layout and language demands. Language demands

Use of Mathematics Textbooks 585

were often mentioned in relation to all textbooks, regardless of pupil ability. However,

in general, the concern was about the perceived inability of pupils to read and understand

any text, and mathematical text and instructions in particular. As a result of this concern,

teachers said they rarely asked or expected pupils to use textbooks for anything other

than exercises, and questions in context were read and often personalised by the teacher

so that pupils needed to carry out no reading for understanding whatsoever. This was

con rmed in lesson observations. Given that access to textbooks was limited to use in

lessons for many pupils, that their use was restricted in those lessons to exercises, and

that teachers mediated the language used in the exercises, pupils in this study had almost

no opportunity to develop their reading and comprehension skills in mathematics. It is

perhaps unsurprising that some teachers commented that when pupils did have access to

textbooks, many seemed unable to use them to support their learning.

Thus, in England, there was differentiation amongst pupils, rst through setting, then

through access to textbooks. Teachers ensured further differentiation by choosing to set

only those questions which they felt were appropriate for the perceived ability level of

the set and by the language demands made on the pupils. It seems that except for high

sets, teachers preferred to avoid giving challenging questions which could not be

immediately answered.

We have chosen to report this separately because pupil access to texts in England turned

out to be restricted in all the schools in our study. This was not something we had

anticipated in advance and may indicate the need for a larger scale study.

Pupils in France and Germany had access to their textbooks at home and at school:

in France, the school supplied the books; in Germany, the parents bought the books.

England. Pupils in the lower secondary years rarely had access to a textbook outside

lessons and the reason given for this by all teachers was because of imposed nancial

constraints on schools. In addition, signi cant numbers of pupils in higher years only

worked from textbooks during lessons under teacher guidance. None of the teachers

suggested that pupils themselves might buy their textbooks, unless they were preparing

for external examinations (in Key Stage 4). It seems, therefore, that very many pupils in

these schools had no access to the school textbook to help their learning, and conse-

quently, they had to rely entirely on teacher-guided input in lessons. This was particu-

larly true of lower attaining pupils: there seemed to be a problem in nding a suitable

book for them; and such pupils were almost always perceived as unreliable in the sense

that they would be unlikely to remember to bring the books to lessons anyway. Given

that this was exacerbated by shortage of funds to buy books, it seems that such pupils

might well go through ve years of compulsory secondary schooling without any support

for their learning in mathematics apart from their teacher in lesson time.

A lower secondary pupil learning mathematics in England therefore seems to have to

face some signi cant problems. Textbooks offer mathematics which is lacking in variety,

cognitive challenge and linguistic complexity. Teachers say they increasingly have little

time to go beyond the textbook in preparing their lessons and therefore there is a danger

that they rely on what is offered in them as a framework for what is possible in their

lessons. Because of a shortage of funds and a tradition in which schools have supplied

textbooks in the past, many pupils have almost no access to the textbooks: textbooks

which are actually designed for them are used mostly by their teachers. And when

586 L. Haggarty & B. Pepin

textbooks are made available to pupils, teachers may further limit learning opportunities

by selecting only those questions judged to be appropriate for the perceived ability level

of the set.

Indeed, as researchers looking across the three countries, whereas the concern for

pupils in France relates to how low attainers might cope with the mathematical demands

made on them, and whereas the concern in Germany is how differentiation is achieved

within the different school types, the concern in England is how to increase rather than

limit the learning opportunities currently offered to pupils in mathematics.

Re ections

In France, a formal view of mathematics had been traditionally held and it was still

recognisable in some of the textbooks. Mathematics was regarded as a structured body

of pre-discovered knowledge, perhaps less structured and with more emphasis on

discovery than in Germany. Books contained many activities (which allowed pupils to

discover ideas for themselves) and this was a feature of all books. It appeared that there

had been an overlay of perspective from the formal to a more dynamic view of

mathematics and how it is taught and learnt. This view emphasised developmental

aspects of mathematical knowledge that needed to be carried out by individuals or

groups of individuals, a mathematics that was more playful and more accessible for

pupils, that was open to questions, challenge and discussion, that needed to be explored

and investigated. But there was also a third utilitarian view recognisable in the French

mathematics books where mathematics had to be useful, as well as exciting, and

accessible for all. In addition, there was an explicit curriculum requirement for all pupils

to read, understand and use mathematical vocabulary, and this was also addressed in

textbooks. In France, the intention seemed to be to help pupils, through guided

discovery, to understand mathematical concepts and through practice to achieve uency

in the use of these concepts.

In German textbooks, mathematics was, by and large, seen as a structured and

pre-discovered body of knowledge, a static discipline developed abstractly. It was

considered to consist of symbols and rules that were immutable and truea de ned,

pre-discovered system. Language demands were high, in particular in the Gymnasium,

both in terms of mathematical vocabulary and symbols. The emphasis was on the

abstractness of mathematics and its structure to educate pupils minds. In the Hauptschul

books, with their similar structure and hierarchy of mathematical topics, this formal view

was still aspired to, although the view was that of mathematics as a bag of tools, made

up of an accumulation of facts, rules and skills to be used by the apprentice or skilled

artisan, and language demands were lower. The message was that mathematics was

correct, logical, neutral, dif cult, intriguing, and in particular in the Hauptschule, also

useful (for science, technology and the workplace). In Germany, the intention appeared

to be to understand mathematical concepts through exposure to theoretical ideas in

mathematics, and engagement in exercises.

In England, mathematics appeared to be a set of unrelated but utilitarian rules and

facts. There seemed to be a super cial veneer of including process skills, where

investigations were used, but kept at the margins, and never an integral component of

learning. Although there was a language curriculum requirement, this was not re ected

in textbooks. In fact, language was restricted, and sometimes there were no words at all

on pages. In England, the intention appeared to be to help pupils achieve uency in the

Use of Mathematics Textbooks 587

use of routine skills through repeated practice in exercises. Simply, the message was that

mathematics was there to be done.

However, no textbooks in the three countries addressed the wider educational

implications. No ethical and social issues were addressed; mathematics was largely seen

as neutral. Although there were differences in the degree to which this was realised,

the content knowledge was always presented as certain and unquestionable, and the

authors of the textbooks presented themselves as the highest authority on that content

knowledge.

What has interested us about the research reported here is that pupils across the three

countries and within two of them get such different opportunities to learn mathematics.

Putting to one side the extent to which pupils learnt what they were offered, there was

no doubt that pupils in France and in the Gymnasium in Germany were stimulated by

challenging mathematics in their textbooks and, during lessons, by their teachers,

although not to the same extent in their textbooks in Germany. This was less clear in the

Hauptschule, where teachers restricted opportunities for learning because of their

perceptions of what pupils could actually achieve if they were in that system. However,

of most concern was the situation in England, where textbooks were rarely available for

pupils in lower secondary years. Given that teachers in England (but not Germany or

France) talked about the increasing dif culty they had in nding time to prepare their

lessons, it might be speculated that the textbook will increasingly de ne the boundaries

of what is possible in mathematics classrooms in England. If that is the case, then

textbooks need to be available to pupils and need to offer much richer mathematics if

pupils are to receive the same kind of mathematical offering as their French and German

counterparts.

So can these differences be understood in terms of the educational traditions of the

three countries?

All pupils in France were given opportunities to learn challenging mathematics and it

seemed to be their teachers aims to select stimulating exercises for them, in order to

give them the opportunity to engage in the process of doing mathematics (as opposed to

result-driven closed learning). In terms of educational traditions, the traditional encyclo-

paedic traditions were still recognisable; for example in teachers concern for entitle-

ment of all pupils to the curriculum, an egalitarian view. Whilst it was considered vital

to give every pupil access to the entire curriculum, it was not clear whether and how

learning was taking place. Every child brings a different set of assumptions and

experiences to which the teacher has to attend, and French teachers talked about the

classroom reality, the perceived heterogeneity of groups, which suggested to them a

need to apply more individualistic approaches. This, however, has not been part of their

education and traditional perceptions of teaching; neither did books consider how to

achieve this differentiation. It was, then, left to the skill of the individual teacher to

bridge the gap between theories of equality and a heterogeneous audience to be

brought up to examination standard. Only in France was it expected that all pupils should

follow the same textbook in any particular year. Historically, the Haby reforms of 1975

established essentially a common core of lower secondary education, the colle`ge unique,

and in 1977, a common curriculum was introduced. Since then, the subsequent education

ministers have fought hard to prevent les lie`res (streaming). They argue that every child

has the right to the entire curriculum, which is re ected in a common textbook for all

pupils of an age group. Thus, while there were some indications that teachers were

nding this dif cult to achieve in practice, it resulted in that entitlement being enacted

in their classrooms.

588 L. Haggarty & B. Pepin

In Germany, there are three textbooks geared towards the perceived ability levels of

pupils in the three different school types. However, all textbooks are clearly structured

into mainly two parts: introductory exercise/s and the main notion, followed by an

extensive range of exercises. The level of complexity and coherence is relatively high in

German mathematics textbooks, in particular with respect to mathematical logic and

structure, but they often appear relatively dry in their presentation, in particular in

Gymnasium textbooks. In terms of educational traditions, the traditional ideals of

Humboldts humanism are still detectable and upheld in the pedagogic approaches

of German Gymnasium teachers and in uence to a large extent the pedagogic culture of

perceived good mathematics teaching. The Hauptschul teachers, on the other hand, nd

themselves in a dif cult situation: how can they teach the highly structured (but

watered-down Gymnasium) mathematics to a low-achieving and demotivated audience of

children, where about one-third have dif culties reading German, and have had life

experiences (for example as refugees) that teachers feel they cannot attend to in class.

It is dif cult to identify cultural traditions which accounted for practices in England.

Within a new climate of accountability and competition, there are indications from this

research of a disharmony between the old tradition of attempting to meet the needs of

each pupil and the newer tradition of teaching for the test. Although traditionally

regarded as poor practice to teach by the book (Doyle, 1992), teachers felt forced to

rely increasingly on textbooks because of their perceived lack of time to prepare lessons.

Textbooks, which may in the past have been enriched by teachers, were now taking a

more prominent place in relation to teacher thinking and planning, and there were

suggestions that this was particularly true for inexperienced and/or non-specialist

teachers. We therefore suggest that more research is needed on current practice,

particularly in relation to non-specialist teachers and pupil access to texts. However, we

also suggest that textbooks in England begin to embrace the richer view of mathematics

and its learning which takes account of children as makers of knowledge and not

receivers of that knowledge.

In conclusion, the ndings of this research demonstrate the value of stepping outside

a particular set of cultural traditions in order to explore other possibilities and also to

recognise how practices are shaped and have developed from particular traditions. It is

argued that mathematics classroom cultures need to be understood in terms of a wider

cultural and systemic context, in order for shared understandings, principles and

meanings to be established, whether for promotion of classroom reform or simply for

developing a better understanding of this vital component of the mathematics education

process.

Acknowledgement

The authors are grateful to the Economic and Social Research Council for their nancial

support of this research programme (Grant Number R000223046).

Correspondence: Dr Linda Haggarty, The Open University, Centre for Research and

Development in Teacher Education, Faculty of Education and Language Studies, Walton

Hall, Milton Keynes MK7 6AA, UK.

Use of Mathematics Textbooks 589

NOTES

[1] The following textbooks were chosen for: Germany: Lambacher-Schweizer (Gymnasium); Mathe-

matik Heute (Gymnasium); Einblicke Mathematik (Hauptschule); France: Cing sur Cinq; Pythagore;

Decimale; England: STP; Keymaths; SMP.

SMP in fact did not appear on the list of top selling books, but was chosen because almost all

teachers explicitly mentioned it as an important source of ideas and for occasiona l use in the

classroom.

[2] Question 12 asks pupils to draw four triangles , each with a given base and two angles.

[3] Question 13 asks pupils to draw a quadrilatera l in such a way that (a) it has exactly two right angles,

(b) it has two acute and two obtuse angles, (c) it has two obtuse angles and one right angle, (d) it

has a re ex angle.

[4] Question 14 asks pupils to draw six quadrilateral s where the coordinates of the vertices are given.

They are then asked to measure the interior angles.

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