Crouching learners, hidden values : values in school mathematical literacy lessons
Local and international pundits concur that education systems play a pivotal role in fostering and developing values in learners. In some countries, like South Africa, the values and rights enshrined in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights resonate in the Schools Act. As one of the concerns of education is nation building, my study investigates if the integration of the values does achieve tolerance and co-operation in the classroom by examining how learners make sense of values in the Mathematical Literacy curriculum. While I firmly believe that educational institutions have a responsibility to integrate positive values into all aspects of the school curriculum, it is my contention that learners cannot fully benefit from values specifically related to the Mathematical Literacy curriculum itself on their own. All stakeholders in education need to come together to establish an informed understanding of policy documents and reconcile the complexities and challenges that surround the transmission of values, so that educators will be able to assist learners in a meaningful way. The classroom life of a learner is intricately woven with that of the teacher. In order to unearth the views and practices of learners and teachers, I adopted a participatory approach. The qualitative study that ensued was conducted in three Mathematics Literacy classrooms at secondary schools in Cape Town, South Africa. The observation sessions afforded me the opportunity to experience and appreciate how the teachers integrate values into the Mathematical Literacy lessons while observing learners‟ behaviour in the classroom. The interactions and interviews with both learners and teachers aided in further unravelling their understanding and implementation of values in the Mathematical Literacy lessons. For learners to develop into responsible, caring and morally just citizens who are capable of critical thought, they require an education that provides them with the necessary opportunities and tools to develop. Mathematical Literacy is able to provide learners with the relevant opportunities and thinking tools to construct meaning around moral concepts. I strongly believe that for learners to accomplish this goal, educators need to be appropriately capacitated to facilitate opportunities for their learners. I did not find any evidence in the literature that suggests a fail-safe theoretical approach to success in values education. I am of the opinion that for any measure of success in values education, a combination of these theories of learning and moral development has to be employed.