This study investigated mathematics teachers’ beliefs about the nature of mathematics and the contributory factors shaping them. A survey of 200 trained and untrained mathematics teachers from public and private schools was carried out in Karachi Pakistan, a context with a strong influence of religion on the socio-cultural practices of the people. The survey was followed by a focus-group discussion with selected teachers and is the focus of this paper. This is a ground-breaking study in a hitherto under-researched socio-religious context.
Teachers across the system showed a strong similarity in beliefs. A commonly held view was that mathematics is created by Allah and mathematicians have worked with this knowledge to invent practical applications in service of religion. Teachers’ experiences of learning mathematics and their deep-rooted religious beliefs shaped their views of mathematics. The study highlights the sensitive and resilient nature of teachers’ beliefs and the significance of taking them into account in reforming teacher education policy and practice.
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