Children Count

Exploring What is Possible in a Classroom with Mathematics and Children

by Mary M. Stordy (Author)
©2015 Textbook XIV, 130 Pages
Series: Rethinking Childhood, Volume 51


Children Count is an interpretive exploration into the teaching of mathematics to children. Through the use of narratives to make meaning of particular pedagogic events, the book explores the possibilities that exist for children and for teachers if mathematics is allowed to thrive in schools as a living human enterprise. Such a re-conceptualized view of mathematics challenges the status quo and results in a different image of schooling. Children Count gives the reader a picture of what a classroom could look like when it includes creativity, inquiry-based learning, empowerment of children and teachers, academic rigor, holism, and integrated and generative curricula. The text captures the mistakes, choices, the actions, and the decision-making process of a teacher who reflects and learns from her students as she realizes she must listen to them because what they have to say counts.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author(s)/editor(s)
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Table of Contents
  • Acknowledgments
  • Foreword
  • Preface
  • Chapter 1. Beginnings
  • Out in the Hallway
  • The Post Office
  • Keeping Up with the Children: Journal Reflections
  • Feels Like Home
  • Chapter 2. Being Led On
  • Possibilities
  • Being Led On
  • Blindsided
  • Opening Up
  • Chapter 3. Reconceptualized Mathematics
  • A Public View of Mathematics
  • Mathematics as a Secret Cult
  • Descartes’s Influence
  • School Mathematics
  • Reconsidering Mathematics in Schools
  • Chapter 4. Hermeneutics: An Ontological Turn
  • Introduction
  • Hermeneutical Tracings
  • From Aristotle to Husserl
  • Husserl and Intentionality
  • Heidegger’s Ontological Shift
  • Gadamer’s Ontology of Understanding
  • Choosing the Method: Did I Have a Choice?
  • I Am in the World
  • Dialogical Nature of Hermeneutics
  • Mathematics Requires a World
  • Memory
  • Truth
  • Understanding through Conversation
  • Horizons
  • Conversation with Mathematics
  • Understanding the Part and the Whole
  • Play and Pedagogy
  • Possibilities
  • Chapter 5. Another Way of Being with Children and Mathematics
  • The Question Is Ontological
  • Frozen Future
  • Chapter 6. If 5 Is the Answer, What Might the Question Be?
  • Learning with and from the Parents
  • The Seven-ness of Things
  • The Conversation Must Continue
  • Chapter 7. Things Are Not Always as They Seem: Entering the Classroom
  • A Foreign Land
  • Shifting Locations: Shifting Perspectives
  • The Gathering Area: Two Steps Forward and One Step Back
  • Castle Remnants: Keeping the Conversation Going
  • Exploring the Martian Landscape: Creating New Terrain
  • The Notebook: Working Alongside Eratosthenes
  • Post-Lesson Reflection
  • Craft Sale: Empowering the Children
  • Walking Beside My Mentor: Counting Grains of Sand
  • Challenging the Problem with Attentiveness
  • Alien Territory: Treading Rough Ground
  • Chapter 8. Living with the Cover Version of Mathematics
  • Keeping the Difficulty Alive
  • Why Didn’t Anyone Tell Me?
  • Mathematics Autobiographies: Living with the Cover Version
  • Chapter 9. Responsibility to Recover
  • You Can’t Get There from Here: Returning Home
  • We Tell Our Stories to Find Out What They Mean
  • A Final Look Back
  • Personal Journal Entry, Fall 2006
  • Letter Unsent: A Tribute
  • Notes
  • Foreword
  • Chapter 7
  • Bibliography
  • Index
  • Series Index

| IX →


It is with much gratitude that I wish to thank my former students of Grade 1C and Grade 2C from our school in the Rockies. These students are directly responsible for shaping my understanding of what children are capable of when given the chance. In particular, I wish to acknowledge ‘Isabel’ who was the catalyst in helping me learn to really listen to children’s voices. I will be forever grateful for that conversation outside our grade-one classroom one October day.

Thank you to the hundreds of pre-service students I have had the pleasure of teaching over the past dozen years. Their questions, enthusiasm, and desire to make a difference in schools give me hope.

I wish to thank Jim Paul for his guidance and unwavering belief in me, David Jardine for teaching me about hermeneutics and introducing me to Gadamer, and Jo Towers who deepened my fascination with children and mathematics through her work and her actions. All three of these scholars have opened up my academic world. I wish to thank them for their patience, their time, and their thoughtful questions about this work.

Thank you to Laurie Bowers, an amazing friend, former colleague, incredible scholar, and avid sailor who has proved to be a valuable editor of my writing. ← IX | X →

To my former colleagues and students at the school nestled in the Rockies, I am forever indebted. Directly influencing this book, I wish to acknowledge Sharon Friesen, who has been my mentor and friend since the first day I witnessed Pat Clifford and Sharon with children, and my former teaching partners and dear friends, Sherri Rinkel MacKay and Jeff Stockton, for their gifts of wisdom and laughter. I am deeply grateful.

I could never have undertaken the work that led to this book without the support and love of my family. I wish to acknowledge my parents, Marion and Gerald Stordy, for their unwavering belief in me and for fostering in me an intense curiosity about the world. Their sense of responsibility to others has impacted me greatly, and I can only hope I will one day be as generous and as giving as they are. My mother has proved to be solid as a proofreader and I am so grateful for the variety of ways she has supported my work.

To my Newfoundland friends, I am indebted for their encouragement. To my Alberta friends, Alex Fidyk and Bev Mathison, I am grateful for their unwavering belief in my work. To my Prince Edward Island childhood friends, Mary Norma Sherry and Bernard Lawless, I owe my sanity.

To the wonderful Shirley Steinberg I will be forever grateful. She is one of the most supportive and generous scholars I have ever encountered. I thank her for her mentorship and for writing the foreword to this book. I have much to learn from Shirley, and I look forward to many more years of learning from her how to live well in the challenging world of academia.

With love and much gratitude, I wish to thank my husband, Jody Doyle, for all that he has done in supporting my work, and for believing in me. I will be forever grateful for his compassion, his generosity, and his understanding. He is my true north. To my daughter Emma, thank you for providing me with an even greater urgency for change in our schools. I can only hope the possibilities discussed in this book may be given life in her future school experiences.

Finally, I must turn and acknowledge my beloved furry family—Sophie (1998–2014), Maggie, Austin (1999–2010), Katy (2002–2014), and Seamus—who have been steadfast beside me during the various stages that have led to the creation of this book. It is unbelievable what two cats and three golden retrievers have done for my soul. I can only hope, one day, to become the human they think I am already.

| XI →


Shirley R. Steinberg

I have told this story before, and sure I will tell it again … because it needs retelling.

Sometime in the mid-90s, I was teaching my undergraduate course in Language and Literacy at Penn State. I was also kid-sitting for Henry Giroux and had his three boys hanging with me for the day. In the Chambers Education Building, there was a very cool hall, which stretched to another building, very sunny due to the windows, and mostly unused. At the end of the hall, by my classroom, was a pile of old furniture and, well, just cool stuff. The boys walked with me to class and spotted the furniture and the hallway. They started to feverishly build a fort; I left them there and told them I would meet them after class. As my students filed in, some of them stopped and spoke to the boys; I heard laughter and conversation outside the room.

About 30 minutes into the class, I heard a loud male voice, and the boys ran by the room and huddled in my doorway. Right behind them was Pete Rubba,1 my department chair. He burst in the room, pointed to the boys, and queried: “This is a school of education, what are these kids doing here?” Pete ← XI | XII → twirled out of the dead silence in the class without waiting for our answer, and we were stunned. Seconds later, we collapsed into laughter.


XIV, 130
ISBN (Hardcover)
ISBN (Softcover)
Publication date
2011 (March)
inquiry-based learning empowerment 1x1 Pedagogic Events, modern teaching, play and learn
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, Oxford, Wien, 2015. XIV, 130 pp., num. ill.

Biographical notes

Mary M. Stordy (Author)

Mary M. Stordy is a university professor living in St. John’s, Newfoundland. She researches and teaches in the areas of curriculum, teaching, and learning and specializes in elementary mathematics education. Resonating throughout Stordy’s work is the strong message that young children have a great deal to say about their world and their lives in schools if teachers will listen to them.


Title: Children Count
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148 pages