Nick Pratt


This thesis is an exploratory study of teachers' and children's understandings of the National Numeracy Strategy, and of interactive whole class teaching in particular. It starts by identifying aspects of the Strategy that are of significance to teachers and develops these by detailing the challenges that face them in teaching in this way. Data are collected by means of interviews and classroom observations, progressively focusing the study. In particular, the way in which teachers and children understand the role of discourse in whole class discussion is examined. This understanding illuminates a tension between the rhetoric of the Strategy, which appears to promote a view of learning that is based firmly on negotiation of meaning through discourse, and its practice, which is seen to be little different from forms of pedagogy that have preceded it. The contribution to knowledge made by the thesis is represented by several features. First, it lies in the detail of the exploration of the interaction between teacher and children, illuminating new ideas about the nature of such interaction in the context of whole class teaching. Though discursive interaction has been examined in some depth through previous studies, few have done so in this context. Second the study's findings relate specifically to the National Numeracy Strategy and again, in complementing other recent (mainly quantitative) studies, it therefore relates previous theory to this particular contemporary initiative. Third, in addition to new knowledge in the field of class interaction and mathematics pedagogy, it develops a novel method of data collection from children, making use of video of children's own involvement in mathematics lessons to stimulate reflection in interviews.

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