Original Research

‘Eighteen hands high’: A narrative reading of Animal Farm from a mathematical perspective

Liveness Mwale, Willy Mwakapenda
Pythagoras | Vol 39, No 1 | a403 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/pythagoras.v39i1.403 | © 2018 Liveness Mwale, Willy Mwakapenda | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 30 October 2017 | Published: 15 November 2018

About the author(s)

Liveness Mwale, Department of Mathematics, Science & Business Education, Tshwane University of Technology, South Africa
Willy Mwakapenda, Department of Mathematics, Science & Business Education, Tshwane University of Technology, South Africa

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This article addresses the interconnection between two education practices: reading and mathematics. These are two common aspects of schooling. Learners engage with these critical practices, regularly. There hardly goes a day in the life of schoolgoing children without them engaging in these two practices in one form or another. However, the point of this article is to examine how these two practices come together in activities of learning mathematics, and seeing mathematical ideas within the context of reading texts that may be considered non-mathematical. The question we address is: to what extent are high school mathematics learners able to see mathematics in non-mathematical reading texts? We examine this question based on an analysis of research project data collected from South African high school learners’ interactions with Animal Farm, one of the 2015 Grade 10–12 South African English Home Language literature books. The learners were drawn from five schools in three provinces, namely Limpopo, Gauteng and Eastern Cape. In the first phase of data collection, 430 Grade 10–12 learners were purposively sampled to participate in the study. In the second and third phases of the study, 100 out of the 430 learners were purposively sampled. These were learners who had read Animal Farm before the time of data collection. Based on our analysis, we argue that high school mathematics learning and teaching do not adequately prepare learners to be able to see mathematics in spaces that may be isolated from traditional environments in which learners learn mathematics.


Reading mathematically; Animal Farm; mathematical knowledge domains


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