Multimathemacy: an anthropology of mathematical literacy

Hendrik Pinxten, Karen Francois

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference paper


Situated Learning (J. Lave, M. Cole) recognizes that learning styles and learning processes can differ over cultures, since learning is not only in the head, but happens in and through the interaction between an individual and his/her social, historical and cultural environment.
The learning of mathematical skills and contents worked with a uniform curriculum for ages, also in developmental programs. This approach has come under fire. We propose to look at how anthropological and other social scientific research is contributing to the changes in mathematics education in the direction of multimathemacy.
Multimathemacy (Pinxten & François) recognizes that formal thinking and reasoning can take a variety of contents and of problem solution procedures. All of them have value and potential relevance. Empirical studies in this realm include ethnomathematics, but also street mathematics, radical mathematics and critical mathematics education. The diversity in social and cultural groups is recognized as a relevant dimension for the way a basic capability of formal thinking gets translated and enhanced in more sophisticated thinking which is called mathematics. Mathematics education would open up and break away from the uniform curriculum (emanating from Academic Mathematics) and seek to recognize the importance of a diversity of ways of formal thinking in the learning processes.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the Conference: Anthropology in the World, British Museum, Clore Centre, London: 8th To 10th June 2012.
Number of pages3
Publication statusPublished - 2012
EventAnthropology in the World - British Museum, Clore Centre, London, United Kingdom
Duration: 8 Jun 201210 Jun 2012


ConferenceAnthropology in the World
CountryUnited Kingdom


  • Multimathemacy
  • Mathematics education


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