Towards a Critical-Mathematical Consciousness: Understanding the Construction of a Counterspace for Prospective Maestras Mexicanas
Sandra Zuñiga-Ruiz

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Dissertation Fellowship

Award Year



University of California, Berkeley

Primary Discipline

Although there has been sociopolitical turn in mathematics education, very little is known about how prospective teachers of color come to develop racial and critical literacy of and with mathematics. Given the growing number of Latinx students and the continued marginalization of women of color in mathematics, it is imperative we center the voices and historias of Latinas but specifically Latinas who seek to become maestras (educators). My study aims at understanding how prospective self-identified Mexicana maestras make sense of issues of race and social justice with and of mathematics with an explicit attention to designing the learning environment, the counterspace. The study is grounded on the idea that affirming spaces do not come to exist on their own; if we are intentional about justice then we design towards justice. Through pláticas (deep meaningful and personal conversations), prospective maestras Mexicanas will engage in critical conversations about race, language, and justice with and of mathematics centering their lived experiences and collectively redefining mathematical activity. This study roots its inquiry in CRT and LatCrit frameworks but more specifically centers narratives, testimonios, that function as a means to understand the lived experiences of those who have been traditionally marginalized and whose experiences are erased from mathematics education scholarship. This study will contribute to the efforts of supporting prospective teachers of color, Mexicanas, on their trajectory to becoming maestras of mathematics while ultimately offering a counterspace as a form of sustenance for and with one another towards un mejor futuro.
About Sandra Zuñiga-Ruiz
Sandra Zuñiga-Ruiz is a Ph.D. candidate in the Education in Mathematics, Science and Technology program at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Education. Broadly, her research agenda sits at the intersection of learning, social and racial justice, and mathematics. Sandra’s dissertation seeks to understand how prospective self-identified Mexicana maestras (educators) make sense of issues of race and social justice with and of mathematics. Such understanding comes from taking a proactive role in designing a counterspace that aims to leverage their repertoires of practice and affirm their marginalized identities as Mexicanas. Her work is deeply informed by her experiences growing up in a predominantly immigrant Mexican community, her desire to become educada in mathematics, and ultimately her commitment to support and serve the next generation of educators teaching in the barrio.Sandra holds a B.S. in Mathematics from California State University, Monterey Bay, an M.A. in Mathematics from San Francisco State University and a second M.A. in Education from The University of California, Berkeley. At Berkeley, she received the Chancellor’s Fellowship to support her graduate work. She has had the opportunity to continue teaching at the college level both in Mathematics departments and in the Graduate School of Education at Cal. She is a proud member of the Functions and TRU labs.

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