Published April 4, 2022 | Version v3
Journal article Open

Examples, exceptions, and monster barring: Unsettling centrism in mathematics education

  • 1. University of Tennessee–Knoxville


Socratic dialogue (also referred to as Platonic dialogue) is a discursive/pedagogical technique that is used to explore questions with no clear answer, typically with a focus on surfacing inconsistencies in the learner’s thinking. I share those purposes and goals, and therefore am making use of many aspects of Socratic dialogue in this article. However, in two respects I will diverge from the common image thereof. First, Socratic dialogues typically frame exactly one speaker as the pedagogue or authority figure. However, for my goals, this is problematically reductive. It is my experience that all speakers bring unique perspective and information to the conversation, and I aim to reflect that in what I have written here—all are teachers, all are learners. Second, Socratic dialogues commonly limit themselves to the purely logical components of an argument (to the extent that we might ever consider our emotional reality separable from the wholistic reality we occupy). However, for my goals, this is again problematically reductive. The problems and questions I explore here are deeply human ones, and dehumanizing the characters comprising my play would necessarily act against that goal. Thus, within the confines of my abilities, I aim to make the characters having the discussion feel like real people—I want readers to sense hidden depths within them that even I, the author, do not have access to. Beyond perceiving humanization to be an important ethical goal in-of-itself, incorporating subjective space to which we have no access is important so as to help us keep keenly in mind that reality is and will forever be more complex than any theoretical model or research methodology can ever hope to account for. No amount of inquiry will free us of uncertainty, and that is perhaps as beautiful as it is terrifying.



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