Publication 3655

Ernest P. (1994) Social constructivism and the psychology of mathematics education. In: Ernest E. (ed.) Constructing mathematical knowledge: Epistemology and mathematics education. Falmer Press, London: 68–79. Fulltext at
Excerpt: It is widely recognized that a variety of different forms of constructivism exist, both radical and otherwise (Ernest, 1991b). However it is the radical version which most strongly prioritizes the individual aspects of learning. It thus regards other aspects, such as the social, to be merely a part of, or reducible to, the individual. A number of authors have criticized this approach for its neglect of the social (Ernest 1991b, 1993d; Goldin 1991; Lerman, 1992, 1994). Thus in claiming to solve one of the problems of the psychology of mathematics education, radical constructivism has raised another: how to account for the social aspects of learning mathematics? This is not a trivial problem, because the social domain includes linguistic factors, cultural factors, interpersonal interactions such as peer interaction, and teaching and the role of the teacher. Thus another of the fundamental problems faced by the psychology of mathematics education is: how to reconcile the private mathematical knowledge, |69| skills, learning, and conceptual development of the individual with the social nature of school mathematics and its context, influences and teaching? In other words: how to reconcile the private and the public, the individual and the collective or social, the psychological and the sociological aspects of the learning (and teaching) of mathematics?

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