Stimulating critical mathematical discussions in teacher education: use of indices such as the BMI as entry points
Suela Kacerja, Toril Eskeland Rangnes, Rune Herheim, Meinrad Pohl, Inger Elin Lilland and Ragnhild Hansen
The main purpose of our research project is to gain insight into, and develop teaching on indices and their applications in society. In this paper, the focus is to present insights into teachers’ reflections when discussing the Body Mass Index (BMI). Skovsmose´s concept of mathemacy, and source criticism, are chosen as conceptual framework. The data analysed were collected in a numeracy across the curriculum class with practising teachers. The findings show that the practising teachers engaged in meaning making of the index formula, and they critically discussed how BMI is used in society and the role the BMI index can have in our lives. We gain insight into the potential of such an index for developing teachers’ awareness of the application of mathematics to the real world and the issues it raises, both for the teachers and for ourselves.
Suela Kacerja has a postdoc position in mathematics education at the Western Norway University of Applied Sciences. She has a background as mathematics teacher educator from Albania and Norway. Her research interests are: developing critical mathematics education possibilities in teacher education and in schools, in intersection with real-life contexts in learning mathematics, as well as pre-service teachers’ reflections about their own practice.
Toril Eskeland Rangnes
Toril Eskeland Rangnes is associate professor in mathematics education. She works at the Department of Teacher Education Study in Mathematics, Western Norway University of Applied Sciences. Rangnes has a background as primary school teacher, textbook author and editor for Tangenten. Her main research interests are critical mathematics education, teacher professional development and language diversity in mathematics classrooms.
Rune Herheim is associate professor at Western Norway University of Applied Sciences. His research focuses on connections between communication qualities and learning in mathematics with a particular focus on argumentation and agency in real-life contexts and when students use digital learning tools. Herheim is the Editor in chief for Tangenten, a Norwegian journal on mathematics teaching.
Meinrad Pohl is associate professor in history. He works at the Department of Social Science, Western Norway University of Applied Sciences, Bergen. His main research interests are early modern economic theory and economic policy, trade history and mining history.
Inger Elin Lilland
Inger Elin Lilland is associate professor at the Western Norway University of Applied Sciences, where she works at the Department of Teacher Education Study in Mathematics. She has previous experience as mathematics teacher at the upper secondary school level. Her main research interests are critical mathematics education and mathematics teacher professional development.
Ragnhild Hansen is associate professor at the Department of Teacher Education Study in Mathematics at Western Norway University of Applied Sciences (HVL). She received her master and PhD degrees from the University of Bergen within applied mathematics. Hansen has a background in as a researcher in different modelling projects. Her main research interests are critical mathematics education and teacher professional development.