What Anthropology can bring to mathematics education

Hendrik Pinxten, Karen Francois

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


In this paper we focus on an anthropology of formal thinking and its contribution to the curriculum reform of mathematics education in multi-cultural societies. Based on the findings from ethnomathematics and critical-mathematics-education we argue for a curriculum of multimathemacy.
Situated Learning (Lave, 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 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.
Mathematics education would open up and break away from the uniform curriculum 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 Society for Anthropological Sciences 8th Annual Meeting in Las Vegas, Nevada, February 22-25
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Event8th Annual Meeting of the Society of Anthropological Sciences - Las Vegas, NV, United States
Duration: 22 Feb 201225 Feb 2012


Conference8th Annual Meeting of the Society of Anthropological Sciences
CountryUnited States
CityLas Vegas, NV


  • Situated Learning
  • Multimathemacy


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