Gestures, systemic functional linguistics and mathematics education
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionFarsani, D., Lange, T., & Meaney, T. (2022). Gestures, systemic functional linguistics and mathematics education. Mind, Culture, and Activity, 29(1), 75-95. 10.1080/10749039.2022.2060260
Gestures have been shown to reflect speakers’ embodied thinking about mathematical concepts and play a role in conveying understandings in teaching/learning interactions. However little research has been done to consider the similarities and differences in the functions that a particular gesture might have in mathematics classrooms in different parts of the world. In this paper, the occurrence of a metaphorical gesture to do with addition in a bilingual mathematics classroom in the UK and two Spanish-speaking classrooms in Chile is investigated. To do this, we elaborate on Systemic Functional Linguistics to consider how the gesture is integrated with other modes of communication to reflect the immediate context of situation as well as a wider mathematics education context of culture. An analysis of the interactions in three classrooms illustrates how the gesture seemed to convey extra meanings, sometimes complementary and sometimes contradictory, to what was expressed through other modes. Besides adding meaning to the mathematical ideas conveyed verbally, the gesture could potentially convey meanings to participants in the interactions about interpersonal relationships which were not as evident in the verbal communication.