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Neoliberalism, choice and mathematics education Valerie Walkerdine.

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1 Neoliberalism, choice and mathematics education Valerie Walkerdine

2 Neoliberalism and globalisation Neoliberalism or advanced liberalism is an amplification of classic liberalism Foucault understood liberalism as the political system which ushers the form of the subject called the individual Rights and responsibilities The market

3 Freedom In The Powers of Freedom, sociologist Nikolas Rose argues that in advanced liberalism we are compelled to be free How can we think of freedom of choice within this context Self management practices Having to choose

4 Choice and the market Becoming a consumer brings the idea of freedom of choice How is this developed within educational practices?

5 Two examples of choice Jean Laves work on practices of consumption in supermarket shopping and best buy calculations and my example of children playing a shopping game from an infant school maths lesson

6 Lave Lave demonstrates that the best buy calculation is not necessarily about working out best value but about complex decisions about the domestic economy, what works for the family, who likes what etc. Using an anthropological approach her interest is in the practice itself and the community of practice

7 What this allows us to see is how the practice is regulated and organised In that sense, choice is best understood as part of a complex practice of shopping and consumption Rose shows us that such practices produce us as the one who regulates and manages ourselves through being the choosing subject in which the practices which produce that possibility and the discursive positions we can take up become obscured

8 The shopping game In the infant school shopping game we see other relations come into play The expensive items for small sums of money The acting out of being rich and willful shoppers

9 Subtraction from 10 What lesson do the children learn The relationship between their mistake and shopping practices The shift from meanings in which the mathematical meanings are contained and school mathematics practices

10 The subject of choice is a fiction This is Roses position - a fiction we have to maintain every day We could also say that this fiction of an autonomous subject who is able to make choices is assembled every day in classrooms We just need to look at it in a different way

11 Assembling Timothy This is an example taken from my research on video games (p173) The subject of choice is the subject of power - the autonomous subject who makes choices The pupil who displays competence in maths is the subject of Reasons Dream

12 Timothy, who likes to win at video games, shows us a subject which is a fantasy of technical competence and mastery, who lives social dominance as though it were a real possession But if we look carefully we can see how this Timothy is carefully assembled in the minute detail of interactions

13 It is in relationships with other players that what appears as the possession of Timothy is assembled The fantasy of the possession of technical skill and social dominance gives immense power not only to choose but to control

14 The issue for me is to understand this not as a possession of individual pupils but as produced in relations thats we fail to see because they are constantly backgrounded

15 So then the choosing subject is equally both a fiction in Foucaults sense, produced through self management in Roses but also routinely assembled in relational dynamics, which involve fantasy positions (the winner, the rich shopper, the perfect mum) which are created in the social relations of everyday practices

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