Mathematics in Masons WorkplaceReport as inadecuate

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Adults Learning Mathematics, v7 n1 p32-48 Feb 2012

This paper presents masons' professional practices, which are related to mathematics. It aims to contribute to the area of adult mathematics education and to enlarge knowledge about how mathematics is used at the workplace. Methodologically it was followed an ethnographic approach. The key informants of the study were four masons aged between 40 and 60 years old. Observations and interviews were carried out at the workplace in a civil construction setting in the Lisbon area. Firstly we present masons' views about schooling and mathematics, as well as the importance that masons confer to mathematics in their profession. Then the paper describes and discusses three episodes observed at masons' workplace in their professional practices. As a whole these episodes illustrate how mathematical knowledge is imbedded in professional activities. Independently of schooling, masons daily and implicitly apply mathematics. It is this practical knowledge of mathematics that, after being uncovered, is for us educators of most relevance to adult-learning mathematics contexts, because not only does it connect school content and curricula to labour-market necessities, but it also makes use of adult learning experiences to support new mathematical learning.

Descriptors: Masonry, Workplace Learning, Mathematics, Semiskilled Workers, Adult Education, Ethnography, Older Workers, Foreign Countries, Educational Attitudes, Adult Learning, Communities of Practice, Semi Structured Interviews, Participant Observation

Adults Learning Mathematics. 26 Tennyson Road, Kilburn, London NW6 7SA UK. e-mail: editor-i[at]; Web site:

Author: Moreira, Darlinda; Pardal, Eugénia



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