Visible and socially-just pedagogy: implications for mathematics teacher education

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In this paper I consider the notion of ‘visible pedagogy’ in refining a conceptualization of ‘socially-just pedagogy’ in the mathematics classroom. I explore reasons why the recent focus on promoting formative assessment and metacognition, embodied in Hattie’s ‘visible learning’, has failed to bring about the fundamental shift in pedagogic approaches that was hoped for. I draw on three sociocultural theories, Brousseau’s ‘didactic contract’, Bourdieu’s theory of ‘reproduction’ and Bernstein’s theory of ‘pedagogic discourse’, to explain the continued predominance of teacher-centred pedagogies in mathematics education. I highlight concerns raised by some equity-minded researchers that a ‘socially-just pedagogy’, which incorporates collaborative, discursive, problem-solving and inquiry-oriented teaching approaches, might further disadvantage marginalized students due to its relative lack of structure. I argue for an alternative interpretation of Bernstein’s ‘visible pedagogy’ that rejects teacher-centred approaches, as a way of making the instructional and regulative discourse more explicit, in favour of a ‘socially-just pedagogy’ in which the teacher’s ‘pedagogic rationale’ is made more explicit to learners. I highlight the potential for such an approach, and exemplify what it might look like in practice, by drawing on my extensive experience as a teacher educator in analysing a vignette of typical classroom practice from sociocultural perspectives.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)733-751
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Curriculum Studies
Issue number6
Early online date4 Jul 2020
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Bernstein’s theory of pedagogic discourse
  • Bourdieu’s theory of reproduction
  • Brousseau’s didactic contract
  • pedagogic rationale
  • socially-just pedagogy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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