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Critical Dissonance and Resonant Harmony



44th Annual Meeting of the North American Chapter of the International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education

The North American chapter of the International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education (PME-NA) invites you to join us at PME-NA 44 in Nashville, Tennessee November 17 – 20, 2022 as we explore Critical Dissonance and Resonant Harmony in the Psychology of Mathematics Education.

The goal of PME-NA is to promote the international exchange of research on the psychology of mathematics education and to promote an ever-deepening understanding of the psychological aspects of teaching and learning mathematics. Psychology, the study of mind and behavior, encompasses biological influences, social pressures, and environmental factors that impact how learners think and act. As members of PME-NA, it is necessary that we attend both to the contexts in which the teaching and learning of mathematics takes place and to the experiences of individual participants, while taking into account the multiple voices, histories, systems, and social structures present in our learning spaces. In recent years, our contexts and experiences have been forever impacted by the world-wide COVID pandemic and a renewed struggle for civil rights in many of our communities.

This year’s conference theme, Critical Dissonance and Resonant Harmony, reflects not only the time and place that we gather, but also the time and place in which we conduct our academic work. Dissonance is jarring to experience, whereas harmony is pleasing. We gather in Nashville—Music City—which is no stranger to both dissonance and harmony. Walk the streets and you will experience both, as vibrations felt in your body or heard in your ear. Look closer and you will see both, knitted in the very fabric of our identity. We are not only the site of lunch counter sit-ins, Freedom Rides, the final approval for women’s suffrage (the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution), the Teens for Equality Black Lives Matter rally, and the Annual March for Black Women in STEM, but also The Trail of Tears, countless acts of oppression, and reactionary legislation limiting citizen’s rights—most recently those of LGBTQ+, BIPOC, and Immigrant communities. We know that dissonance is necessary for change and liberation, and so has a critical component. We also know that harmony occurs when multiple voices and forces join simultaneously to amplify and enrich, achieving a resonance that pushes through to the other side and finds a better way. Still, in reality, dissonance and harmony cycle, neither seemingly fully formed, and often sharing contiguous or overlapping spaces. The PME-NA community will gather in this place in 2022, travelling from locations across North America that are experiencing similar dissonances and harmonies.

It is in this context that we conduct our work in the field of mathematics education, as researchers who value the contributions and experiences of each and every person. In preparation for PME-NA 44, we invite all presenters to reflect on how your work impacts the contexts and experiences of members in mathematics learning communities, particularly those who are on the margins of these communities, and to address what these reflections mean for your work. Guiding questions for this reflection include:

●      How does your work challenge a settled mathematics learning status quo?

●      How does your work help to create more socially just contexts for learning and teaching mathematics?

●      How does your work have an impact on society more broadly, beyond individual mathematics classrooms and school districts?

●      How does your work improve learning conditions for each and every mathematics learner?

●      Whose voice does your work center in the mathematics learning process? What can be learned from reflecting on this question? 

We hope the PME-NA 44 conference provides a communal space for critical reflection and conversation on how our individual and collective work contributes to dissonant and harmonious movements in our field as it relates to the psychological aspects of teaching and learning mathematics. We recognize that what is perceived as dissonant or harmonious varies among cultures and even individuals and is by no means universal. And so, we look forward to the opportunities for conversation and learning across our international community as we share instances of dissonance and harmony that can serve to propel research toward action and change.



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