The emotional geographies of learning mathematics : narratives of twelve learners at KwaDukuza Primary School on the north coast of KwaZulu-Natal.
The focus of this study was to investigate the contextual factors that impact on mathematics learning and how school children negotiate these factors in order to facilitate their learning. At a time in South Africa when all stakeholders associated with the Department of Education are engaging in activities and endeavours designed to facilitate academic excellence, especially in mathematics, it is appropriate to explore a dimension that brings to light the life experiences of school children. It was with this intention that this research sought to examine the emotional geographies of children who are learning mathematics. The framework of this study was built around the concept of children’s emotional geographies, which provided the foundation for this research. In order to understand the views and experiences of the child participants in this study, a qualitative research approach was employed to gather rich, descriptive data. As a narrative inquiry, the study allowed children to tell their stories. The study was conducted at a primary school in a town on the north coast of Kwa-Zulu Natal, and the participants were twelve learners aged between nine and thirteen, in grades four, five and six. Guided critical conversations with the child participants formed the structure of the data gathering process. The findings reveal that children come from a milieu of social and cultural backgrounds, each with a unique interpretation of the new curriculum. The child participants were able to come up with innovative strategies to navigate their way around factors such as language barriers, overcrowded classrooms and disruptive co-learners.