Turkey's Problem-Solving Child: A Historical Analysis of the Cultural Spaces of Mathematics Education

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Yolcu A.

EGITIM VE BILIM-EDUCATION AND SCIENCE, vol.46, no.206, pp.27-46, 2021 (SSCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 46 Issue: 206
  • Publication Date: 2021
  • Doi Number: 10.15390/eb.2020.8906
  • Journal Indexes: Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Scopus, EBSCO Education Source, TR DİZİN (ULAKBİM)
  • Page Numbers: pp.27-46
  • Keywords: Modernity, Citizenship, Governmentality, Problem solving, Mathematics education, Subjectification, Equality/inequality, SCHOOL, POWER
  • Hacettepe University Affiliated: Yes


This paper, as a history of the present, explores the connection between pedagogical practices of teaching and learning mathematics and historical conditions in relation to the production of the problem-solving child as a desired human kind in Turkey's early republican years (1923-1940). Archival resources are school mathematics curricula, textbooks, and teacher guidelines published during those years. Analysis focuses on the epistemological principles that make, order, classify, normalize, and differentiate the self and the other in curricular and instructional materials. Findings reveal that knowledge and practices that organize mathematics education contain normative principles that mark some as faithful and disciplined bodies and others as needing intervention to be fully recognized as Turkish citizens. The paper further explores how mathematics education contains a set of precautionary pedagogies to help not-yet-fit bodies to secure the social order and how those pedagogical practices reinscribe differences between children. Implications are discussed in terms of mathematics education and contemporary schooling. The analysis contributes to the field by addressing the issues of equality and inequality in education from a historical perspective, highlighting that differences between children are the product of a complex, multifaceted set of historical-cultural-pedagogical processes.