Applying Symbolic Convergence Theory to Pre-service Teachers’ Responses to Mathematics Education Organizations’ Statements on Racial Violence
Keywords:Mathematics Education, Symbolic Convergence Theory, Anti-racism, Organizational Communication
In June 2020, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) and the Association of Mathematics Teacher Educators (AMTE) released statements regarding racism, racial violence, and mathematics teaching. Pre-service elementary teachers (PSTs) in a mathematics content course wrote reactions to the organizations’ statements. After using an emergent coding process to code the reactions for major themes, the authors used a theory from communication studies called symbolic convergence theory to analyze how closely the PSTs’ understanding of the statements aligned with the vision espoused by the organizations in the statements. PSTs largely understood the need to make their classrooms safe and supportive spaces; however, they struggled to connect anti-racist ideals specifically to mathematics teaching. The authors discuss potential ways NCTM and AMTE can address this disconnect.
American Council on Education. (n.d.). The Carnegie classification of institutions of higher edu-cation. Retrieved August 1, 2022, from https://carnegieclassifications.acenet.edu/lookup/lookup.php
Anderson, R. K., Baker, C. K., Donaldson, S., & Troudt, M. L. (2020). Pursuing anti-racist practice through collaborative noticing and wondering. Connections, 30(2). https://www.amte.net/connections/2020/11/pursuing-anti-racist-practice-through-collaborative-noticing-and-wondering
Association of Mathematics Teacher Educators. (2017). Standards for Preparing Teachers of Mathematics. Available online at amte.net/standards
Association of Mathematics Teacher Educators. (2018, January 11). A message from the Associa-tion of Mathematics Teacher Educators (AMTE) on the recent attacks on Dr. Laurie Rubel [Press release]. amte.net/news/2018/01/press-release-rubel
Association of Mathematics Teacher Educators. (2020, June 3). AMTE statement on systemic rac-ism [Press release]. https://amte.net/files/AMTE%20Racism%20Press%20Release.pdf
Bales, R. F. (1951). Interaction process analysis: A method for the study of small groups. Addi-son-Wesley.
Bartell, T., Yeh, C., Felton-Koestler, M., Berry, III, R. Q. (2022). Upper elementary mathemat-ics lessons to explore, understand, and respond to social injustice. Corwin.
Battey, D. (2013). Access to mathematics: “A possessive investment in whiteness.” Curriculum Inquiry, 43(3), 332–359. https://doi.org/10.1111/curi.12015
Battey, D., Bartell, T., Webel, C., & Lowry, A. (2021). Understanding the impact of racial atti-tudes on preservice teachers’ perceptions of children’s mathematical thinking. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, 52(1), 62–93. https://doi.org/10.5951/jresematheduc-2020-0207
Battey, D., & Coleman, M. A. (2021). Antiracist work in mathematics classrooms: The case of policing. Journal of Urban Mathematics Education, 14(1B), 6–20. https://doi.org/10.21423/jume-v14i1Ba410
Battey, D., & Leyva, L. A. (2016). A framework for understanding whiteness in mathematics education. Journal of Urban Mathematics Education, 9(2), 49–80. https://doi.org/10.21423/jume-v9i2a294
Beard, K. S., Vakil, J. B., Chao, T., & Hilty, C. D. (2021). Time for change: Understanding teacher social-emotional learning supports for anti-racism and student well-being during COVID-19, and beyond. Education and Urban Society, 00(0), 1–19. https://doi.org/10.1177/00131245211062527
Bormann, E. G. (1972). Fantasy and rhetorical vision: The rhetorical criticism of social reality. Quarterly Journal of Speech, 58(4), 396–407. https://doi.org/10.1080/00335637209383138
Bormann, E. G. (1975). Discussion of group methods: Theory and practice (2nd ed.). Harper and Row.
Bormann, E. G. (1982a). Colloquy I. Fantasy and rhetorical vision: Ten years later. Quarterly Journal of Speech, 68(3), 288–305. https://doi.org/10.1080/00335638209383614
Bormann, E. G. (1982b). The symbolic convergence theory of communication: Applications and implications for teachers and consultants. Journal of Applied Communication Research, 10(1), 50–61. https://doi.org/10.1080/00909888209365212
Bormann, E. G. (1985). Symbolic convergence theory: A communication formulation. Journal of Communication, 35(4), 128–138. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1460-2466.1985.tb02977.x
Bormann, E. G., Cragan, J. F., & Shields, D. C. (1996). An expansion of the rhetorical vision component of the symbolic convergence theory: The Cold War paradigm case. Communica-tion Monographs, 63(1), 1–28. https://doi.org/10.1080/03637759609376371
Bormann, E. G., Cragan, J. F., & Shields, D. C. (2001). Three decades of developing, ground-ing, and using symbolic convergence theory, Communication Yearbook, 25, 271–313. https://doi.org/10.1080/23808985.2001.11679006
Bormann, E. G., Pratt, J., & Putnam, L. (1978). Power, authority, and sex: Male response to female leadership. Communication Monographs, 45(2), 119–155. https://doi.org/10.1080/03637757809375959
Cannon, S. O. (2020). EDITORIAL: A call for field disruptions and field connections in mathe-matics education research. Journal of Urban Mathematics Education, 13(2), 1–16.
Cragan, J. F., & Shields, D.C. (1992). The use of symbolic convergence theory in corporate stra-tegic planning: A case study. Journal of Applied Communication Research, 20(2), 199–218. https://doi.org/10.1080/00909889209365329
Cragan, J. F., & Shields, D.C. (1998). Understanding communication theory: The communicative forces for human action. Allyn & Bacon.
Fonger, N. L. (2022). Teaching is a journey: Toward anti-racism in practice. Mathematics Teach-er: Learning & Teaching PK-12, 115(4), 314–319. https://doi.org/10.5951/MTLT.2021.0328
Foss, S. K. (2017). Rhetorical criticism: Exploration and practice (5th ed.). Waveland Press.
Gilmore, B., & Kramer, M. W. (2019). We are who we say we are: Teachers’ shared identity in the workplace. Communication Education, 68(1), 1–19. https://doi.org/10.1080/03634523.2018.1536271
Goffney, I., Leonard, J., & Lewis, C. (2021). I, too, am America! Teaching mathematics for em-powerment. Journal of Urban Mathematics Education, 14(1), 12–23. https://doi.org/10.21423/jume-v14i1a426
Gutiérrez, R. (2008). A “gap-gazing” fetish in mathematics education? Problematizing research on the achievement gap. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, 39(4), 357–364.
Gutiérrez, R. (2017). Why mathematics (education) was late to the backlash party: The need for a revolution. Journal of Urban Mathematics Education, 10(2), 8–24. https://doi.org/10.21423/jume-v10i2a347
Gutiérrez, R. (2018). When mathematics teacher educators come under attack. Mathematics Teach-er Educator, 6(2), 68–74. https://doi.org/10.5951/mathteaceduc.6.2.0068
Han, K. T., & Leonard, J. (2017). Why diversity matters in rural America: Women faculty of color challenging whiteness. Urban Review, 49(1), 112–139. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11256-016-0384-7
Harper, F. K., Maher, E. M., & Jung, H. (2020). Whiteness as a stumbling block in learning to teach mathematics for social justice. Investigations in Mathematics Learning, 13(1), 5–17. https://doi.org/10.1080/19477503.2020.1827662
Huxman, S. S. (1996). Mary Wollstonecraft, Margaret Fuller, and Angelina Grimke: Symbolic convergence and a nascent rhetorical vision. Communication Quarterly, 44(1), 16–28. https://doi.org/10.1080/01463379609369997
Kroll, B. S. (1983). From small group to public view: Mainstreaming the women’s movement. Communication Quarterly, 31(2), 139–147. https://doi.org/10.1080/01463378309369497
Larson, M., & Berry, R. (2017). A response to Charlottesville. National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. https://www.nctm.org/News-and-Calendar/Messages-from-the-President/Archive/Matt-Larson/A-Response-to-Charlottesville/
Leyva, L. A. (2021). Black women’s counter-stories of resilience and within-group tensions in the white, patriarchal space of mathematics education. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, 52(2) 117–151. https://doi.org/10.5951/jresematheduc.2020-0027
Leyva, L. A., McNeill, R. T., Marshall, B. L., & Guzmán, O. A. (2021). “It seems like they purposefully try to make as many kids drop”: An analysis of logics and mechanisms of ra-cial-gendered inequality in introductory mathematics instruction. Journal of Higher Educa-tion, 92(5), 784–814. https://doi.org/10.1080/00221546.2021.1879586
Martin, D. B. (2009). Does race matter? Teaching Children Mathematics, 16(3), 134–139. https://doi.org/10.5951/TCM.16.3.0134
Martin, D. B. (2013). Race, racial projects, and mathematics education. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, 44(1), 316–333. https://doi.org/10.5951/jresematheduc.44.1.0316
Martin, D. B., Groves Price, P., & Moore, R. (2019). Refusing systemic violence against Black children: Toward a Black liberatory mathematics education. In J. Davis & C. C. Jett (Eds.), Critical race theory in mathematics education (pp. 32–55). Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315121192-4
Matthews, L. E., Jessup, N. A., & Sears, R. (2021). Looking for “us”: Power reimagined in mathematics learning for Black communities in the pandemic. Educational Studies in Mathematics, 108(1–2), 333–350. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10649-021-10106-4
Miles, M. L., Marshall, S. A., McGee, E. O., Buenrostro, P. M., & Adams, M. (2019). Culti-vating radical solidarity among mathematics education scholars of color to resist white su-premacy. International Journal of Critical Pedagogy, 10(2), 97–126.
Moses, R., Kamii, M., Swap, S. M., & Howard, J. (1989). The Algebra Project: Organizing in the spirit of Ella. Harvard Educational Review, 59(4), 423–444. https://doi.org/10.17763/haer.59.4.27402485mqv20582
National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. (2017, August 14). A response to Charlottesville. https://www.nctm.org/News-and-Calendar/Messages-from-the-President/Archive/Matt-Larson/A-Response-to-Charlottesville/
National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. (2020, June 1). A statement on George Floyd, Bre-onna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery. https://www.nctm.org/News-and-Calendar/News/NCTM-News-Releases/A-Statement-on-George-Floyd,-Breonna-Taylor,-and-Ahmaud-Arbery/
National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, Association of Mathematics Teacher Educators, Association of State Supervisors of Mathematics, Benjamin Banneker Association, NCSM: Leadership in Mathematics Education, School Science and Mathematics Association, & TODOS: Mathematics for ALL. (2021, March 19). Statement on anti-Asian racism. https://www.nctm.org/News-and-Calendar/News/NCTM-News-Releases/Statement-on-Anti-Asian-Racism/
Nishi, N. W. (2021). White hoarders: A portrait of whiteness and resource allocation in college algebra. Journal of Higher Education, 92(7), 1164–1185. https://doi.org/10.1080/00221546.2021.1914495
Rowland. R. C. (2012). Analyzing rhetoric: A handbook for the informed citizen in the new mil-lennium (4th ed.). Kendall Hunt.
Rubel, L., & McCloskey, A. V. (2019). The “soft bigotry of low expectations” and its role in maintaining white supremacy through mathematics education. Occasional Paper Series, 41, 113–128. https://doi.org/10.58295/2375-3668.1280
Rubel, L. H., & McCloskey, A. V. (2021). Contextualization of mathematics: Which and whose world? Educational Studies in Mathematics, 107(2), 383–404. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10649-021-10041-4
Warburton, T. T. (2015). Solving for irrational zeros: Whiteness in mathematics teacher educa-tion (Publication No. 10010629) [Doctoral dissertation, University of Utah]. ProQuest Dis-sertations Publishing.
Copyright (c) 2023 Daniel Clark, Angela Jerome
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
The copyright for articles in JUME is held by the individual. By virtue of their appearance in this open access journal, articles are free to use with proper attribution in educational and other non-commercial settings.