This project embeds critical global learning in the teaching and learning of school mathematics. Using the context of a core subject to develop such learning places it at the heart of the school curriculum and encourages its prioritisation. Although, the focus will be on 10-12 year olds, the materials produced are likely to be suitable for a wider age range.
The materials include curriculum materials for school learners; a teacher professional development resource; suggestions for incorporating approaches and materials in initial teacher education; and e-twinning activities, all available on this website. Themes explored include the global nature of mathematics; mathematics in history; mathematics from a variety of cultures; critical numeracy; and modelling contemporary societal issues. Throughout the processes used emphasise an embodied and participatory approach, with learners working together to create a community of inquiry, one within which they experience rational and reasonable dialogue about things that matter to them and their teachers. Thus, both the topic content and the espoused pedagogy support the development of the knowledge, attitudes, dispositions and skills that are required for critical global learning within the teaching of mathematics.
Critical global competences
In an increasingly globalised world, critical global learning should form a vital part of children's education (OECD, 2016, Global competency for an inclusive world]).
Global competence includes acquiring the knowledge and awareness of global and intercultural issues and the ability to learn from and live with people from diverse backgrounds, developing the capacities for mutually respectful interaction and open and flexible attitudes. This is in line with the priority of the EU to foster education which addresses social, ethnic, linguistic and cultural diversity and which develops social, civic, intercultural competences, media literacy and critical thinking (EU, 2017, Erasmus+ Programme Guide).
In addition, mathematics education researchers have long recognised that mathematics is formatting society, often creating and reinforcing inequality and social division. A mathematics education is needed which develops ‘mathemacy’ alongside literacy and supports the development of critical citizenship.
In many European countries, attainment in mathematics is low with many children reporting anxiety and lack of self-efficacy in the subject. In addition, teaching strategies known to enhance learning are less likely to be used with disadvantaged students and overall levels of attainment are negatively correlated with levels of disadvantage. Further, mathematical competence is needed in order to understand and interact as citizens with contemporary, complex societies and to understand the ways that mathematics is formatting society, often creating and reinforcing inequality and social division.
PiCaM aims to develop classroom resources that open up opportunities for every child to build a positive and productive relationship with the subject, developing a high mathematical self-concept and self-efficacy. Both topic content and the espoused pedagogy support the development of the knowledge, attitudes, dispositions and skills that are required for critical global learning within the teaching of mathematics.
Working with teachers
PiCaM developed specific programmes for in-service and pre-service teachers. The goal is to help in understanding the role education can play in combating racism and discrimination and in supporting the achievement of migrant children; to acquire the skills to recognise and adapt practice in response to diversity amongst learners; and to develop techniques to support observation, listening and intercultural communication through drawing on techniques learnt from P4C (Philosophy for Children).
P4C is a questioning and enquiry-based approach, thus far hardly used within mathematics education, which encourages the exploration of ideas. It gives children the possibility of seeing that their ideas have value and that others have different ideas that have value too. It gives children a chance to speak and be heard without the need always to be right and to develop confidence to ask questions and learn through discussion.