Publication 2989

Ernest P. (1992) The nature of mathematics: Towards a social constructivist account. Science & Education 1: 89โ€“100. Fulltext at
Two dichotomies in the philosophy of mathematics are discussed: the prescriptive โ€“ descriptive distinction, and the process โ€“ product distinction. By focusing on prescriptive matters, and on mathematics as a product, standard philosophy of mathematics has overlooked legitimate and pedagogically rewarding questions that highlight mathematics as a process of knowing which has social dimensions. In contrast the social-constructivist view introduced here can affect the aims, content, teaching approaches, implicit values, and assessment of the mathematics curriculum, and above all else, the beliefs and practices of the mathematics teacher.


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