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Speaker Series: Jasmine Y. Ma

Aesthetic Practices as context for and content of mathematical meaning-making


Dr. Jasmine Y. Ma (presenting)
Associate Professor
Mathematics and Education
Department of Teaching and Learning
NYU Steinhardt



In this presentation we explore how various conceptualizations of "context" in the learning sciences have shaped understandings of cognition and competence, attendant theories of mathematics and mathematics learning, and imaginaries for who does or doesn’t belong in real or possible mathematical spaces. We explore how attention to aesthetics and aesthetic practices might offer an alternative to container and nesting metaphors for learning contexts. Specifically, we examine how a focus on aesthetics might better surface the embodied, affective, and value-laden dimensions of mathematical activity and learning as fundamentally cross-setting phenomena. We argue that this more expansive treatment of context has the possibility to transform our understandings of how non-dominant learners agentically traverse activities and social groups across their lifeworlds, recruiting and assembling repertoires of practice and identity resources for their participation in and across diverse environments.



Jasmine Y. Ma (presenting) and Molly L. Kelton are learning scientists who moonlight as faculty of mathematics education at New York and Washington State Universities. Our collaborations take us within and across contexts that are in- and out-of-school, professional and decidedly unprofessional, formally and incidentally educational. We consider what counts as mathematics, what could or should count as mathematics, and the diverse forms of cognition and learning that individuals and groups accomplish across these many settings. As part of this project, we take theoretical jaunts into questions regarding what counts as context, and with what consequences. Our aim is to illuminate and design for expansive and socially transformative forms of mathematical thinking and learning, especially among communities traditionally marginalized and erased by schooling.