Publication 2954

Lerman S. (1996) Intersubjectivity in mathematics learning: A challenge to the radical constructivist paradigm? Journal for Research in Mathematics Education 27(2): 133–150. Fulltext at
Radical constructivism is currently a major, if not the dominant, theoretical orientation in the mathematics education community, in relation to children’s learning. There are, however, aspects of children’s learning that are challenges to this perspective, and what appears to be “at least temporary states of intersubjectivity” (Cobb, Wood, & Yackel, 1991, p. 162) in the classroom is one such challenge. In this paper I discuss intersubjectivity and through it offer an examination of the limitations of the radical constructivist perspective. I suggest that the extension of radical constructivism toward a social constructivism, in an attempt to incorporate intersubjectivity, leads to an incoherent theory of learning. A comparison of Piaget’s positioning of the individual in relation to social life with that of Vygotsky and his followers is offered, in support of the claim that radical constructivism does not offer enough as an explanation of children’s learning of mathematics.

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