Abstract / Synopsis

Identity formation is complex, ongoing, and context specific. To be successful in mathematics classes, students must negotiate and navigate the normative identity of the class--what counts as being "good at math" (Cobb, Gresalfi & Hodge, 2009). Within the constraints of normative identity, students must also negotiate a personal doer-of-math identity: who they are within the context of this particular mathematics class. When students are compelled to suppress key aspects of their identity in order to accommodate the normative identity of the class cognitive bandwidth for learning may be impeded (Steele, 1997). Conversely, when students are guided in braiding individual identity traits with the normative identity, they may improve their personal opportunities for learning and benefit the class. This article describes how one student learned to use her powers for good as a comedian-mathematician. It offers analysis of how a teacher helped her student become good-at-math while keeping true-to-self.



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