Learning Through and About Perspectives: Scholarly Inquiry and Practice

Signe E. Kastberg, Alyson E. Lischka, Andrew Tyminski, & Wendy Sanchez


Building Support for Scholarly Practices in Mathematics Methods (Kastberg, Tyminski, Lischka, & Sanchez, 2018) is the third book in the AMTE Professional Book Series. It was inspired by the diversity of perspectives and discussions of those perspectives at the Scholarly Inquiry and Practices on Mathematics Methods Conference*. Work at the conference focused on understanding mathematics teacher educator perspectives with the primary purpose of supporting scholarship and teaching of mathematics methods courses. Gaining insight into the use of perspectives, we reasoned, would help us better articulate our stances and identify areas for further growth.

Over the two years since the conference (2015-2017), we have worked with a group of enthusiastic, thoughtful, and talented mathematics teacher educators who are dedicated to the work of articulating what they know and how they know it. These mathematics teacher educators represent a cross section of the AMTE membership. Colleagues who wrote chapters for Building Support for Scholarly Practices in Mathematics Methods helped us notice what we had not seen and taught us what we did not know (Varela, 1999). Familiar practices, rationales for activities, and ways of approaching the teaching of prospective teachers were examined, questioned, and turned in new directions. Ideas, new to some mathematics teacher educators, were introduced and discussed. We believe that mathematics teacher educators teaching methods courses will find chapters that introduce new perspectives and ideas as well as chapters that revisit existing practices from different perspectives. As mathematics teacher educators plan courses or research, we believe this collection of chapters will be helpful, satisfying, and curiosity piquing. Insights into the construction of the content of methods courses and the diversity of our approaches to activities are reported.

Chapters in the book are grouped to illuminate pieces of the editors’ views of mathematics teacher educators’ practice. Section I explores possibilities for perspectives on the work of mathematics teacher education. Scholars share prominent perspectives but also caution that many perspectives are needed in a community where diversity of thought gives rise to strengths. The perspectives described in Section I illustrate how a practice can be informed by and informs a perspective taken by a mathematics teacher educator. We advocate for gaining consciousness of perspectives, values, and beliefs, to enable dialogue, not about which one is the right one, but rather about how these perspectives inform our practices.

Section II explores mathematics teacher educators’ use of perspectives in their practices. Here we find that a perspective can shape the framing of a whole course or be evidenced in a particular activity. Section III turns to learning goals and activities designed for use in methods courses. Maintaining a dedication to describing author perspectives, each chapter includes a discussion of the perspectives taken, learning goals identified and activities constructed with those learning goals in mind. Section IV further unpacks the construction of activities to meet learning goals, but includes a discussion of perspective to situate the exploration of activities. Section V includes discussion of implementations of activities and the ways perspectives inform such implementations.

Section VI turns inward and considers the field of mathematics teacher education and the work of mathematics teacher educators across settings. Who are we? How do we do our work? How might we improve? Here, authors challenge mathematics teacher educators to consider the influence of perspectives on their own work and to examine the alignment of the activities we implement with our own goals for teacher preparation. Our strength as a field is built through exploration of similarities and differences in our practices.

A final commentary invites the field to look at relationship as a potential unifying theme. Although we may have different perspectives that inform varying approaches to activities, and different understandings of our impact, our relationships with students support the humanization of mathematics. If the central goal of education is the support of learners to achieve their human potential (D’Ambrosio & D’Ambrosio, 2013), we are making progress on that aim. Authors drawing from different perspectives contributed to each of the sections of the book, illustrating ways mathematics teacher educators think and work. Diversity of thought about activity development or implementation makes enriches discussions of successes and challenges.

We encourage the AMTE community to read chapters in a section of Building Support for Scholarly Practices in Mathematics Methods and consider the ways in which the authors’ ideas help them see their own work, and then engage in discussion about the ideas with other scholars. Willingness to listen, consider, and acknowledge the scholarship of mathematics teacher educator work as it is situated in mathematics education is the first step toward the development of scholarly inquiry and scholarly practice.

Finally, we take the opportunity to respond to those who would challenge the ideas in this book based solely upon political or personal stances unsupported by evidence of any kind. We stand with other mathematics education entities in support of the work presented in this volume and in particular, support our authors’ descriptions of the inequities in many schooling situations and the steps they suggest are necessary to address them. We hope that this book draws from the energy of opposition to reinforce the idea that our differences help us grow and create a strong inclusive community.

*This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 1503358. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation. 


D’Ambrosio, U. & D’Ambrosio, B. (2013). The role of ethnomathematics in curricular leadership in mathematics education. Journal of Mathematics Education at Teachers College, Spring-Summer 2013(4), 19-25.

Kastberg, S. E., Tyminski, A. M., Lischka, A. E., & Sanchez, W. B. (2018). Building Support for Scholarly Practices in Mathematics Methods. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing.

Varela F. J. (1999). Ethical know-how: Action, wisdom, and cognition. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. Retrieved from: http://cepa.info/2119