Policy Production Through the Media: The Case of More Mathematics in Early Childhood Education

  • Troels Lange
  • Tamsin Meaney
Part of the ICME-13 Monographs book series (ICME13Mo)


This chapter explores how politicians’ use of the media can disrupt educational traditions. Analysis of the discursive resources that a Norwegian Minister of Education used in a single authored debate article in a Norwegian newspaper shows that he drew on a well-known argument for why schools should teach mathematics, that of the need for socio-economic development of society. The use of this argument, rather than other arguments such as those about civic development, which would be more in alignment with the social pedagogy approach traditionally characterising early childhood education in Norway, seems to indicate that the Minister was promoting a shift in approach to one of preparing children for school. This example of the use of the media to determine how policy shifts are made is explored in relationship to promoting a new kind of “common sense” which does not require public discussion or input from mathematics education researchers.


Media rhetoric Early childhood mathematics Policy shifts Economic development Politicians 


  1. Alvestad, M. (2004). Preschool teachers’ understandings of some aspects of educational planning and practice related to the national curricula in Norway. International Journal of Early Years Education, 12(2), 83–97. Scholar
  2. Anderson, G. L. (2005). Performing school reform in the age of the political spectacle. In B. K. Alexander, G. L. Anderson, & B. Gallegos (Eds.), Performance theories in education: Power, pedagogy, and the politics of identity (pp. 199–220). Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  3. Anderson, G. L. (2007). Media’s impact on educational policies and practices: Political spectacle and social control. Peabody Journal of Education, 82(1), 103–120. Available from:
  4. Barnehageloven, Lov om barnehager: LOV-2005-06-17-64. (2005).Google Scholar
  5. Barwell, R., & Abtahi, Y. (2015). Morality and news media representations of mathematics education. In S. Mukhopadhyay & B. Greer (Eds.), Proceedings of the Eights International Mathematics Education and Society, 21st–26th June 2015, Portland Oregon (pp. 298–311). Portland: Mathematics Education and Society. Available from:
  6. Bennett, J. (2005). Curriculum issues in national policy-making. European Early Childhood Education Research Journal, 13(2), 5–23. Scholar
  7. Chorney, S., Ng, O.-L., & Pimm, D. (2016). A tale of two more metaphors: Storylines about mathematics education in canadian national media. Canadian Journal of Science, Mathematics and Technology Education, 16(4), 402–418. Scholar
  8. Clarke, M. (2012). The (absent) politics of neo-liberal education policy. Critical Studies in Education, 53(3), 297–310. Scholar
  9. Digranes, T. (2014, August 7). Kunnskapsløst av kunnskapsministeren. At Torbjørn Røe Isaksen vet så lite om barnehagens innhold, er svært overraskende. Bergens Tidende. Retrieved from
  10. Drori, G. S. (2000). Science education and economic development: Trends, relationships, and research agenda. Studies in Science Education, 35(1), 27–57. Scholar
  11. Edelman, M. (1964/1985). The symbolic uses of politics: With a new Afterword. Urbana IL: University of Illinois Press.Google Scholar
  12. Edelman, M. (1977). Political language: Words that succeed and policies that fail. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  13. Edelman, M. (1985). Political language and political reality. PS, 18(1), 10–19. Scholar
  14. Edelman, M. (1988). Constructing the political spectacle. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  15. Franklin, B. (2004). Education, education and indoctrination! Packaging politics and the three ‘Rs’. Journal of Education Policy, 19(3), 255–270. Scholar
  16. Gellert, U., Jablonka, E., & Keitel, C. (2001). Mathematical literacy and common sense in mathematics education. In B. Atweh, H. Forgasz, & B. Nebres (Eds.), Sociocultural research on mathematics education (pp. 57–73). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  17. Gravemeijer, K., & Doorman, M. (1999). Context problems in realistic mathematics education: A calculus course as an example. Educational Studies in Mathematics, 39(1–3), 111–129. Scholar
  18. Hansen, A., & Simonsen, B. (2001). Mentor, master and mother: The professional development of teachers in Norway. European Journal of Teacher Education, 24(2), 171–182. Scholar
  19. Hattam, R., Prosser, B., & Brady, K. (2009). Revolution or backlash? The mediatisation of education policy in Australia. Critical Studies in Education, 50(2), 159–172. Scholar
  20. Hjarvard, S. (2008). The mediatization of society: A theory of the media as agents of social and cultural change. Nordicom Review, 29(2), 105–134.Google Scholar
  21. Isaksen, T. R. (2014, August 9). Matte i barnehagen (Maths in kindergarten). Bergens Tidende. Retrieved from
  22. Jensen, B. (2009). A Nordic approach to early childhood education (ECE) and socially endangered children. European Early Childhood Education Research Journal, 17(1), 7–21. Scholar
  23. Jönsson, I., Sandell, A., & Tallberg-Bromann, I. (2012). Change or paradigm shift in the Swedish preschool? Sociologia, Problemas e Prácticas, 69, 47–61. Available from:
  24. Keitel, C., & Kilpatrick, J. (2005). Mathematics education and common sense. In J. Kilpatrick, C. Hoyles, & O. Skovsmose (Eds.), Meaning in mathematics education (pp. 105–128). New York: Springer Science.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Kunnskapsdepartementet. (2011). Framework plan for the content and tasks of kindergarten. Oslo: Author [The Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research].Google Scholar
  26. Lange, T., & Meaney, T. (2014). It’s just as well kids don’t vote: The positioning of children through public discourse around national testing. Mathematics Education Research Journal, 26(2), 377–397. Scholar
  27. LeBlanc, R. J. (2012). Representing new math: Genre chains and controversy in the Saskatchewan Media. Alberta Journal of Educational Research, 58(2), 286–299.Google Scholar
  28. Lingard, B., & Rawolle, S. (2004). Mediatizing educational policy: The journalistic field, science policy, and cross-field effects. Journal of Education Policy, 19(3), 361–380. Scholar
  29. McLaren, P. (1989). Life in schools: An introduction to critical pedagogy in the foundations of education. London: Longman.Google Scholar
  30. Meaney, T., Helenius, O., Johansson, M., Lange, T., & Wernberg, A. (Eds.). (2016). Mathematics education in the early years: Results from the POEM2 conference, 2014. New York: Springer International Publishing.
  31. Miller-Kahn, L., & Smith, M. L. (2001). School choice policies in the political spectacle. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 9(50), 1–41. Available from:
  32. Niss, M. (1996). Goals of mathematics teaching. In A. J. Bishop, K. Clement, C. Keitel, J. Kilpatrick, & C. Laborde (Eds.), International handbook of mathematics education (pp. 11–47). Dordrecht: Kluwer.Google Scholar
  33. Norske elevar gir opp for lett: Kunnskapsminister Torbjørn Røe Isaksen (H) meiner elevane må lære å anstrenge seg. (2014, August 3). Bergens Tidende. Retrieved from–Norske-elevar-gir-opp-for-lett-3170167.html.
  34. OECD. (2001). Starting strong: Early childhood education and care. Paris: OECD Publishing. Scholar
  35. Radford, L. (2008). Connecting theories in mathematics education: Challenges and possibilities. ZDM Mathematics Education, 40(2), 317–327. Scholar
  36. Rodney, S., Rouleau, A., & Sinclair, N. (2016). A tale of two metaphors: Storylines about mathematics education in Canadian national media. Canadian Journal of Science, Mathematics and Technology Education, 16(4), 389–401. Scholar
  37. Schaanning, E. (2015). Hvis skolematematikken ikke fantes. Arr - idéhistorisk tidsskrift, (4 Liv, Arr, idéhistorie. Festtidsskrift til Espen Schaanning). Available from:
  38. Sjøberg, S. (2014). PISA-syndromet: Hvordan norsk skolepolitikk blir styrt av OECD. Nytt Norsk Tidsskrift, 31(1), 30–43.Google Scholar
  39. Sjøberg, S. (2015). PISA and global education governance—A critique of the project, its uses and implication. Science & Technology Education, 11, 111–127.
  40. Smyth, J. (2006). The politics of reform of teachers’ work and the consequences for schools: Some implications for teacher education. Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education, 34(3), 301–319. Scholar
  41. Stack, M. (2006). Testing, testing, read all about it: Canadian press coverage of the PISA results. Canada Journal of Education, 29(1), 49–69. Available from:
  42. Thomas, S. (2002). Contesting education policy in the public sphere: Media debates over policies for the Queensland school curriculum. Journal of Education Policy, 17(2), 187–198. Scholar
  43. Thomson, P., Lingard, B., & Wrigley, T. (2012). Ideas for changing educational systems, educational policy and schools. Critical Studies in Education, 53(1), 1–7. Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of EducationWestern Norway University of Applied SciencesBergenNorway

Personalised recommendations