A sociological analysis of the pictures used in the South African foundation phase numeracy workbooks and their mathematical implications

Peter Pausigere


About half of South Africa’s Department of Basic Education foundation phase numeracy workbooks’ content
consist of pictures (Pausigere, 2016), yet the implications of these pictures to the different lower grades is not
clear. To analyse the types of pictures, and the inferences to be drawn upon learners’ mathematical
understanding this article is theoretically informed by Dowling’s (1996; 1998) sociology of mathematics
education, specifically drawing from his textual description concepts. A sociological qualitative content
analysis of the numeracy workbook pictures led to the development of a model capable of classifying key
mathematical pictures used in mathematical workbooks and applicable to conventional maths textbooks. The
analytical framework’s pictorial categories show abstract and concrete-abstract mathematical pictures as
being effective in translating generalising, context-independent mathematical principles. On the other hand
concrete and abstract-concrete mathematical pictures through situational activities exhibit context-dependent
numerical strategies. Given the analytical framework the study discusses the mathematical implications of its
findings across the foundation phase.


numeracy; Foundation Phase workbooks; Dowling

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Copyright (c) 2018 Peter Pausigere

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Journal of Education