Linguistic and Cultural Influences on Learning Mathematics

Linguistic and Cultural Influences on Learning Mathematics

Linguistic and Cultural Influences on Learning Mathematics

Linguistic and Cultural Influences on Learning Mathematics

Synopsis

The combined impact of linguistic, cultural, educational and cognitive factors on mathematics learning is considered in this unique book. By uniting the diverse research models and perspectives of these fields, the contributors describe how language and cognitive factors can influence mathematical learning, thinking and problem solving. The authors contend that cognitive skills are heavily dependent upon linguistic skills and both are critical to the representational knowledge intimately linked to school achievement in mathematics.

Excerpt

It is a pleasure to write the Foreword for this important volume, Linguistic and Cultural Influences on Learning Mathematics. Over the past 15 years or so, research on the learning of mathematics has made important advances by focusing mainly on the "cognitive" aspects of the problem. Thus, we have learned that even 3-year-olds possess rudimentary notions of more and less; that school children's errors often result from "buggy" procedures; and that common strategies of mental addition are used in different cultures.

The Cocking and Mestre volume performs a valuable service by calling our attention to broader aspects of mathematics learning. Linguistic and Cultural Influences on Learning Mathematics brings the study of mathematics learning into the real world of schools, culture, and bilingualism. (To get a feel for the personal meaning of these issues you might begin this volume at the end, with Suina's eloquent Epilogue, "And Then I Went to School.") the volume's diverse chapters, drawing on many scholarly disciplines, explore these and other factors that make the learning of mathematics so difficult in American schools.

A basic theme of this volume is that the understanding of mathematics performance in the school requires much more than cognitive research alone. Although cognitive science has made an important contribution in showing that children from different cultures possess the potential for at least basic mathematics learning, we need to understand why that potential is seldom realized. Why is it that schooling is so often an unrewarding and unpleasant experience for so many of our children? To understand the failure of the educational system, we need to explore a host of problems usually slighted in cognitive research--problems of . . .

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