The cultural turn within the research field of mathematics education

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Abstract

Critical voices from the research field of mathematics education propose to look at mathematics as the study of mathematical activities, and hence as a complex of social and cultural manifestations, in a move away from traditionalist positions (e.g. against the still dominant Platonic view) (Hersh & John-Steiner, 2012). The theoretical point of departure of these critical voices is the recognition of a factual variety of mathematical practices across the board, including 'western' academic mathematics which has a particular setup of concepts and practices of and on the world, and thus is at its basis a sociocultural complex like any other cultural tradition. This point of departure is consciously and explicitly taken into account when devising curriculum material and educational strategies (Ernest, 2010).
In this paper we want to explore the field of mathematics education that focuses on this cultural perspective. Research on the social and cultural dimension of mathematics education is mainly done in the field of Critical Mathematics Education and the field of Ethnomathematics. We will investigate the historical growth, and the differences and similarities of Critical Mathematics Education and Ethnomathematics. Based on their historical and political background both research areas are dealing in a different way with the foundation question and the question of the essence of things; viz. the main philosophical question in Western philosophy that characterizes the philosophy of Modernity (Skovsmose, 1994a, 1994b, 2004).
Even though Ethnomathematics is a critical research program and a critical practice regarding mathematics education (D'Ambrosio, 2001), in literature it is still considered different from the so-called Critical Mathematics Education (Alrø, Ravn, & Valero, 2010). We will argue that in spite of the different historical and political background, the two fields are now converting to each other based on their similarities, being a critical attitude and the focus on the cultural and social dimension of mathematics education.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 12th International Congress on Cultures of Mathematics and Logic, 9-12 November 2012, Institute for Logic and Cognition, Sun Yat-Sen University Guangzhou, China
PublisherOnline published http://www.math.uni-hamburg.de/home/loewe/Guangzhou2012/programme.html
Publication statusPublished - 2012
EventUnknown -
Duration: 1 Jan 2012 → …

Publication series

NameProceedings of the 12th International Congress on Cultures of Mathematics and Logic, 9-12 November 2012, Institute for Logic and Cognition, Sun Yat-Sen University Guangzhou, China

Conference

ConferenceUnknown
Period1/01/12 → …

Keywords

  • Cultural turn
  • Mathematics education
  • Mathematical practices

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