The Labor Beat

The most recent issue of Labor, “The Labor Beat,” edited by Max Fraser and Christopher Phelps, is now available.

ddlab_15_1_coverThis issue considers the transformation of labor journalists’ working conditions across time, from the days of the small printer-publisher to the mid-century newspaper conglomerate and today’s cable-news, Internet-propelled 24-hour environment.  Even journalists brimming with the best of intentions do not write news under conditions of their own choosing, given the power of publishers, editors, and advertisers. That makes it all the more impressive that so many have covered the labor beat with alacrity, including those profiled in this issue: John Swinton and Joseph Buchanan in the nineteenth century; Heywood Broun, Benjamin Stolberg, Trezzvant Anderson, and Barbara Ehrenreich in the twentieth; and Steven Greenhouse, Jane Slaughter, and Sarah Jaffe today.

Browse the table of contents and read the introduction to the issue, now freely available.


  1. the above presentation is very indeed and profound as observed prof dr mircea orasanu and also as followed
    The subject aims at developing the pupil’s interest in mathematics, as well as creating opportunities for communicating in mathematical language and expressions. It should also give pupils the opportunity to discover aesthetic values in mathematical patterns, forms and relationships, as well as experience, satisfaction and joy in understanding and solving problems (Skolverket, 2007).
    Although the importance to practise and communicate mathematically in meaningful and relevant situations are emphasised, the chapter concerning goals to aim for gives no explicit reference to communication. Hudson and Nyström find this rather surprising in view of the explicitly stated aims. Further, there are no explicit references to language and communication aspects in the section on the structure and nature of the subject or in the goals to be attained either by the end of the early phase or at the very end of compulsory school.
    It should be noted though that there is explicit reference to the importance of oral communication in the criteria under the section on the student’s ability to use, develop and express mathematical knowledge: An important aspect of knowing mathematics is the student’s ability to express her/his thoughts orally and in writing, with the help of the mathematical language of symbols and supported by concrete material and pictures.
    Swedish examples of mathematical tasks particularly suited for communication can be found in the national assessment system. Swedish national tests in mathematics are designed to cover a broad spectrum of the syllabus, they are fairly low-stakes and to a high degree aligned with the curriculum. Examples can be found in Appendix 1 (Hudson and Nyström, 2007).
    In her study, Singer (2007a) found that new philosophies of education promoted by the National Curriculum put more emphasis on language across the curriculum. Thus, among the four framework objectives for mathematics in compulsory education, there is one devoted explicitly to communication: Knowledge and use of mathematical concepts, Development of exploration, investigation and problem-solving capacities, Communicate using mathematical language and Develop interest and motivation for studying mathematics and applying them to various contexts.
    After investigating in detail the relationship between mathematics on the one hand
    1 INTRODUCTION Language as an expression of understanding and text comprehension. Some reference objectives emphasise reading and writing mathematical texts, as well as decoding mathematics texts through the help of logical operators and quantifiers.
    Language as (disciplinary) content (especially basic meanings/ terms and expressions). Language as reflecting the structure of a topic or theme is emphasised within the framework objective “Knowledge and use of mathematical concepts”, in the learning activities that are focused on terminology.
    Language as discursive pragmatics, language as realisations of basic discourse functions (like naming, defining, describing, explaining, supporting, reporting, hypothesising, evaluating etc.) is emphasised in various examples of learning activities that are provided within the subject curriculum for each grade.
    Aspects related to language as creativity (the rheme/new part in theme- rheme or given-new dynamics) language as the tool and means for developing, creating and expressing new concepts and insights are targeted through the framework objective “Developing competencies in exploration, investigation and problem-solving”.
    Language for reflecting (critically) on the subject and one’s own learning is emphasised through the framework objective “Developing interest and motivation for studying mathematics and applying it to various contexts”. The reference objectives focused on communication and on developing attitudes are fundamental for meta-cognition and aim at the very core of education in the 21st century (Singer 2007, this volume).
    Ongstad (2007a) concludes that the new national curriculum for mathematics in Norway (LK06) in use from 2006 onwards, gives absolute priority to disciplinarity in the three parts ‘objectives’, ‘subject areas’ and ‘competence aims’. In the fourth part, ‘basic skills’, language and communication, or ‘discursivity’, is by far the most significant pattern. This leads to a schism that is the plan’s most significant pattern and creates uncertainty about the plan’s main intention. Is it the objectives or is it the skills? The basic-skill chapter, where competences for language and communication dominate, can be read as a way of ‘intruding’ mathematics (and even the other school subjects in the curriculum), and force them to be tools for and mediate a wider enculturation (or perhaps even ‘Bildung’) rather than being an isolated, purely disciplinary knowledge. An overall conclusion can be that the aspects in question mainly are kept separate.
    Ongstad’s study even compares the two last national curricula. If there is any significant ‘developmental line’ from the former curriculum from 1997 (L97) to the current, LK06, what seems lost is the relative clear conceptual orientation found in L97. One implication is that the KL06 seems to put less weight on a conscious semantic based epistemology that could have opened a door between language and mathematics.
    In general, a rather formal and quite general ‘communicative’ approach seems to have won a pyrrhic victory, and mainly in a particular part of the curriculum. This kind of schism is probably strongest in the Norwegian curriculum, but is nevertheless even an overall tendency in the four investigated curricula. However, if future Norwegian evaluations actually will end up focusing on overall basic skills (rather than purely mathematical ones), the communicational ambitions might become relevant further down the road.
    A general interpretation
    All four curricula have some, but not many explicit references to language and communication. These are mostly found in the general parts (introductions) where the discipline is related to learners, ‘world’ and society (‘lifeworlds’). The closer one gets to specific goals and aims (often signalled as ‘bullet points’) the more weight is put on mathematics as such.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s