One of the messages of this work is that what may appear as individual learning, thinking and performance are better seen as social accomplishments, depending on cultural and collective resources. The production of this book is no exception. I appreciate the quality of the earlier work of many people (some of it discussed here). I also want to acknowledge the encouragement, support and help I have had from colleagues, friends, groups and communities.
At Middlesex University, the Mathematics and Statistics Group, the Business School, the Research Committee, and the Computing, Library and Media Services staff have supported this work in many ways. I also appreciate my connections with colleagues in the mathematics education, the statistics and the social science communities, in Britain and internationally. I would like especially to mention the Research into Social Perspectives in Mathematics Education group, the British Society for Research into the Learning of Mathematics, the International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education, Adults Learning Maths - a Research Forum, the Project on Mathematical Thinking and Learning (funded by the Portuguese agency, JNICT) and the Radical Statistics Group.
An earlier version of this work was submitted as a doctoral dissertation at the University of London Institute of Education. I thank my supervisors, Harvey Goldstein and Valerie Walkerdine, for sharing with me their specialist knowledge in that earlier project, and for their willingness to discuss its more general and interdisciplinary aspects, in a way that has provided a platform for my continuing development of the ideas. I also value my ongoing contact with the Mathematical Sciences group at the Institute, an environment that is both exciting intellectually and supportive.
From among the many who have contributed to the final form of this project, by commenting critically on parts of the book, or by helping with crucial stages of production, special thanks are due to: Jeannie Billington, Mark Coulson, Katherine Crawford, Celia Hoyles, Steve Lerman, Joao-Filipe Matos, Candia Morgan, Monique Polins, Florian Sala, Linda Santimano, Peter Sneddon, Chris Stanley, Ingrid Thorstad and Carol Anne Wien. In particular, I am grateful to Tom Wengraf for an impressive job of commenting on the lion's share of chapters at a crucial moment; to Paul Ernest for much good advice and long-term faith in the project; and especially to Anna Tsatsaroni for her constant intellectual and emotional support, in this and other projects.
I also want to express my appreciation for the massive contribution from the students of the (then) Polytechnic. Over 900 gave twenty minutes each to complete the questionnaire, and twenty-five gave up to a further hour to be interviewed about their experiences and thinking about mathematics. I hope that their willingness to participate will be repaid, at least in part, by the contribution of this study, and others, to the challenging task of making the learning and the use of mathematics, much less mystifying and much more satisfying.
I thank the following for their kind permission to reproduce specific material:
• the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (England and Wales) for Figures 2.1 and 2.2;
• Springer-Verlag and Elizabeth Fennema for Figure 3.1;
• Taylor and Francis Group for Figure 6.1; and
Jeff Evans London, February 2000
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