ERIC Number: ED433280
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1999-Apr-22
Reference Count: N/A
Framing French Success in Elementary Mathematics Curriculum and Pedagogy: Implications for American Educators.
Fowler, Frances C.; Poetter, Thomas S.
A study provides a deeper understanding of teaching elementary mathematics in France. France performed creditably in mathematics on both the Second International Mathematics Study (SIMS) and the Third International Math and Science Study (TIMSS). In analyzing the French approach to teaching elementary mathematics, three theoretical frames are used: sociocultural, official policy, and classroom practice. Five questions, developed by Stigler and Hiebert (1997), were employed to provide a theoretical framework for describing French classroom instruction. Basil Bernstein's "Class and Pedagogies: Visible and Invisible," which identifies a visible pedagogy (VP) characterized by strong "classification" and strong "framing," also was used. Data were analyzed by coding them in terms of the major concepts in Stigler and Hiebert. The formal curriculum in France is not a static entity but one whose potential lies in wait of the interpretation of practitioners, students, practice, and experience. Mathematics is strongly classified and tends toward reflecting a VP. Problem solving plays a central role in the French conceptions of teaching and learning mathematics in school. Findings suggest that French success on international mathematics tests cannot be understood as resulting from the sorts of policies that U.S. politicians recommend in the wake of publicity about U.S. scores on international comparisons. The French do not use a skill and drill approach and have no high stakes mathematics examinations during elementary school. Four probable reasons for their success are: (1) use of a constructivist approach in teaching mathematics; (2) use of instructional methods that are less disadvantageous for poor and minority children; (3) skillful use of formative assessment to guide teaching; and (4) teacher recruitment and selection processes which guarantee that knowledgeable professionals teach elementary mathematics. Contains a table and 28 references. (BT)
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: France
Identifiers - Assessments and Surveys: Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study