This paper was presented to Thematic Working Group 10 (Diversity and Mathematics Education: Social, Cultural and Political Challenges) at the Eleventh Congress of the European Society for Research in Mathematics Education (CERME 11 – February 6-10, 2019), hosted by the Freudenthal Group, Utrecht.
In the paper we introduce the solidarity assimilation methodology (SAM) under the critical scrutiny of the community, as a strategy of intervention in an inherently exclusionary school system. This intervention has been operating for almost 40 years in direct contact with the classroom and in the context of institutional obstacles faced by the authors. The core principles of SAM is to distinguish promotion from evaluation and to conflate rewarding effort with content progress as promotional criterion leading to credit. SAM adopts the motto “we teach when we listen, we learn when we talk”. We argue that this common belief in progressive pedagogies acquires a deeper meaning under a Lacanian perspective. Rewarding effort is less easy to digest because it forces us to politicize our work. The problem of universal failure will not be solved by SAM, but SAM provides an understanding-in-action of the role of failure in the resilience of school practices.