Essays in Education


Student teachers who are studying to teach math in early elementary school in Sweden today have studied less math in secondary school than student teachers in the late 1980´s and the 1990´s. To be able to address the problems of this new group of students, we need to understand and analyze their experiences. The instruments of inquiry were students’ letters about their experiences in school math. The starting point of the analysis was to find the student teachers’ experiences of certain subtopics aspects of school math. In the second step, relationships between different aspects of school math were identified. These relationships were constructed as activity systems. In the third step, words related to each system were counted to get an indication of what the student teacher had experienced as the most common and least common learning context. This study exposes weaknesses among student teachers when they start their teacher training in mathematics. These weaknesses are now more pronounced when students can begin a teacher training program in math without studying in an intensive math program in secondary school. Almost 80 percent of the student teachers interviewed felt negative emotions toward math, and many see the subject as a set of rules instead of skills. These beliefs can affect their teaching in the future. If teacher training programs don’t challenge these beliefs, the student teachers’ approaches will be limited.

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