COMPARING CURRICULAR APPROACHES FOR STATISTICS IN PRIMARY SCHOOL IN ENGLAND AND BRAZIL: A FOCUS ON GRAPHING

Janet Ainley, Carlos Monteiro
unpublished
Analysis of the curricula for primary schools in England and Brazil indicates that in both countries while there is emphasis given in policy documents to the importance of problem solving, the materials that are designed to support teachers' implementation of the curriculum in their classrooms reflects a more passive approach to the teaching of graphing. We draw on research evidence from studies with primary school children and with student teachers to argue for the importance of active use of
more » ... e of active use of graphing for the emergence of transparency (Meira, 1998). We discuss the implications for initial teacher education in order to support teachers whose own confidence and experience in statistics is very limited. INTRODUCTION We base this paper on an analysis of the curricula relating to statistics (data handling) for primary school pupils in England and in Brazil, focussing particularly on the use of graphs. Our analysis indicates that in both countries there is an attempt at the top level of curriculum design to emphasise problem solving and enquiry as the key ideas underlying the teaching of specific skills and ideas. However, these generalised aims present considerable challenges for primary teachers who may themselves have little background knowledge of statistical ideas, and who will therefore need to rely on more detailed support materials. In both national contexts we see that the interpretation of the curriculum objectives in such materials (textbooks, planning guides, exemplar activities and problems, assessment criteria) moves away from the more challenging notions of problem solving and enquiry to focus on progression in the difficulty of (drawing) graphs, and what has been called passive graphing (Pratt, 1995), in which producing, rather than interpreting or using the graph is seen as the purpose of the activity. Pratt (1995) and Ainley (2001) contrast this passive use of graphs with situations in which graphs are used actively as analytical tools in problem solving (see also Ainley, Nardi & Pratt, 2000). We contrast this with the richness and complexity in the interpretation of graphs in non-pedagogic contexts revealed by Monteiro's research (2005) with student teachers in England and Brazil. Monteiro uses the term "critical sense" to encapsulate the perspective that these student teachers bring to interpreting media graphs, mobilising and balancing statistical skills with contextual knowledge and experience. We end with a discussion of the need for experiences in pre-service teacher education that can support the development of a view of graphing as an analytic tool and thus equip teachers to draw on their everyday experience of reading graphs to inform the design of classroom activities.
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