Transforming Children's Mathematics Education: International Perspectives

Transforming Children's Mathematics Education: International Perspectives

Transforming Children's Mathematics Education: International Perspectives

Transforming Children's Mathematics Education: International Perspectives

Synopsis

Eminent scholars from around the globe gathered to discuss how educational systems would change if the prevailing principles of constructivism were applied to three major aspects of those systems -- knowledge and learning, communication, and environment. This volume provides documentation of the proceedings of this important meeting - - the Early Childhood Action Group of the Sixth International Congress on Mathematics Education.

This international assembly, representing such diverse disciplines as mathematics and math education, epistemology, philosophy, cognitive science, psycholinguistics, and science education, is the first to examine early childhood mathematics education from constructivist and international perspectives in addition to formulating recommendations for future work in the field.

Excerpt

Leslie P. Steffe University of Georgia, USA

"Action Group Al: Early Childhood Years" was one of the action groups of the Sixth International Congress on Mathematical Education (ICME-6) held in Budapest, Hungary, from July 27 to August 3, 1988. the general goal of the action group was to identify the issues, problems, and opportunities presented by a constructivist's perspective for mathematics education in early childhood and to make recommendations for the work in this area over the next 4 years--until ICME-7. the action group was in itself an experiment in which the participants, some representing a constructivist perspective, were brought together in an effort to provide an international forum for accomplishing this general goal.

The revolutionary aspect of constructivism lies in the assertion that "knowledge cannot and need not be 'true' in the sense that it matches ontological reality, it only has to be 'viable' in the sense that it fits within the experiential constraints that limit the (human's) possibilities of acting and thinking" (von Glasersfeld, 1989, p. 162). Accepting mathematical knowledge as being viable rather than true has far-reaching consequences for mathematics education in early childhood. For example, the belief that mathematics is the way it is rather than the way human beings make it to be has permeated mathematics education at all levels and has served as the basis for the assumption that there is a perceived tradition of school mathematics that students must come to know in the way intended by society. Changing this traditionally held assumption opens up new possibilities for reform in mathematics education. Some of the possibilities for reform were presented in a framework prepared by an international panel where knowledge and learning, communication, and environment were adopted as key organizing concepts. Mathematical experience was embedded in the discussions . . .

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