The problem-solving citizen

University dissertation from Malmö högskola, Lärande och samhälle

Abstract: The present thesis is made up by three articles and in all of these the mathematics curriculum for upper secondary school in Sweden is analysed. The main focus is the citizen and citizenship and the point of departure is problem solving as a competence. Besides an investigation of the connection between citizenship and the curricu- lum or the role the citizen have in the curriculum, questions about what tensions appear when problem solving is recontextualised in- to the curriculum are posed. Following an international trend in (mathematics) education, the mathematics curriculum in Sweden stresses demands made on the students and citizens instead of rights that the students or citizens have. Demands that everyone must become problem-solving citizens. By the use of Bernstein’s theories about the pedagogic device and his division of different knowledge forms into a vertical and a horizontal discourse, I inves- tigate possible effects of these demands. Despite intentions that all should be included, I show that there is a risk for exclusion instead. Bernstein suggested that school reproduces social inequity. In this thesis I discuss how this is done in the curriculum. My conclusion points at a risk of segregation and exclusion of lower socio- economic groups from influence, power and control. Furthermore, the reproduction of social inequity is build more solidly into the system with the new curriculum as although it is unclear whether the purpose of the changes to the curriculum was really to divide groups and exclude some from power.

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