Ethics of care in the mathematics classroom : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Masters in Education (Māori Education) at Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand

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Ethics of care is a complex and critical element of educational theory and practice which is commonly misunderstood by teachers across all subject areas. Teachers understanding and mindset towards ethics of care is reflected in their utilisation of classroom practices of care. Whilst there are numerous indigenous voices championing various approaches to care for those working with Māori and Pāsifika students, implementation of these practices in the New Zealand educational context is inconsistent and there remains significant achievement gaps between different groups of ethnicities. One programme aiming to address the way in which care practices are utilised in mathematics is Developing Mathematics Inquiry Communities programme of professional learning and development. Through the lens of relational and critical race frameworks as influenced by feminist theory this study used a qualitative approach to examine the elements of teacher mindset toward ethics of care in mathematics and explored the impact which participation in professional learning and development has on these mindsets. Through semi-structured interviews, practices of care utilised in the classrooms of mathematics teachers of year five and six students were identified. In total three teachers at varying stages of their teaching careers and varying lengths of Developing Mathematics Inquiry Communities participation were interviewed. An examination of literature relating to ethics of care, Developing Mathematics Inquiry Communities professional learning and development, and current practices of care in the context of New Zealand mathematics classrooms was undertaken. This identified several practices of care currently used by New Zealand mathematics teachers working with Māori and Pāsifika students such as: use of mixed-ability grouping, student-centred learning practices, community and whānau involvement in mathematics learning, and place-based mathematics contexts. Utilisation of each of these practices was described by interview participants as a response to their participation in professional development. Through better understanding of the nature of ethics of care, how professional development impacts on teacher mindset toward ethics of care and identifying successful practices of care for teachers of Māori and Pāsifika students in mathematics classrooms, teachers engaging in professional development will be better equipped to implement and enhance practices of care in their own classrooms.
Māori Masters Thesis