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

  • Peter Pausigere Rhodes University
Keywords: numeracy, Foundation Phase workbooks, Dowling


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.
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