Interest and Identity Convergence for Equitable Mathematics’ Teaching: Reflections on the Interplay of the Institutional and Individual on Teacher Development and Action

Tara Meister


Propelled by Maxine Greene’s (1988) continuum of freedom from normative structures to critical consciousness and action, I illuminate the institutional and individual influences on teacher development and action in mathematics teaching. I focus on the question: What barriers and openings, both individually and institutionally, spur teachers to consider equitable mathematical teaching practices as important to pursue with commitment? Reflecting on the broad cultural features that uphold mathematical inequities, factors that inform mathematical contexts, and constructions of individual identity, I contemplate avenues to enter meaningful, asset-oriented growth for white teachers in particular toward equity practices in mathematics. I argue that linear frameworks, such as white privilege and racial identity development, do not provide the required reflection and action steps for transformation. Rather, the nuance of societal conditions and dynamics of individual identity must be examined in depth by teachers and mathematics classrooms to progress toward equity. Teachers’ identity convergence, the moral imperative to understand the self and others, will prompt institutional change before interest convergence (Bell, 2005a) necessitates it, as the economic benefits of mathematical equity are not immediately apparent.

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