Original Research

Granting learners an authentic voice in the mathematics classroom for the benefit of both the teacher and the learner

Herbert B. Khuzwayo, Sarah Bansilal
Pythagoras | Vol 33, No 2 | a163 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/pythagoras.v33i2.163 | © 2012 Herbert B. Khuzwayo, Sarah Bansilal | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 14 March 2012 | Published: 14 December 2012

About the author(s)

Herbert B. Khuzwayo, Department of Mathematics, Science and Technology Education, University of Zululand, South Africa
Sarah Bansilal, Department of Mathematics Education, School of Education, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa


An important aspect of democratic education is the value it places on providing spaces for disagreement and argument as opportunities for learning. This is unlike an ‘occupation of the minds’ philosophy, which denies people the right to see alternatives. In this article we explore one aspect of this area of democratic education: the issue of providing opportunities for learners’ voices. We acknowledge the importance of this, even if the voices are dissenting; such dissent is important for teachers to learn more about the learners. We subsequently look at the kind of listening that a teacher can do in order to learn, and consider some cases from literature about teachers who struggle to listen and what happens when they learn to listen to their learners. Finally, we argue that a perspective aligned with preparing learners to contribute to a democratic society advises a rethink of the construct of mathematical knowledge for teaching. By learning how to listen in a respectful manner and as part of a negotiation and co-evolution of shared understanding, teachers can deepen and shift their understanding of mathematics, their understanding of learners and their understanding of their own learning.


democracy; learners' voices; hermeneutic listening; mathematics knowledge for teaching


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Crossref Citations

1. Using culturally relevant teaching in a co-educational mathematics class of a patriarchal community
David Mogari
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doi: 10.1007/s10649-016-9730-7