Publication 3857

Matthews M. R. (1999) Social constructivism and mathematics education: Some comments. In: Curren R. (ed.) Philosophy of Education 1999. Philosophy Education SOC Publications Office, New Orleans LA: 330–341. Fulltext at
Excerpt: Dennis Lomas in his essay on “Paul Ernest’s Application of Social Constructivism to Mathematics and Mathematics Education” correctly indentifies Ernest as a major proponent of social constructivism in mathematics education. Lomas’s essay is quite circumscribed in its goals: he leaves aside whether Ernest has adequately, or otherwise, interpreted the arguments of I. Lakatos, Ludwig Wittgenstein, and L. S. Vygotsky that he appeals to develop his philosophy of mathematics; and Lomas declines to reflect on the more general relevance of social constructivism to “mathematics, mathematics education, or education in general.” Lomas wishes to focus upon Ernest’s account of mathematical objects, and to begin a critique of the “social, political, and ethical consequences that [Ernest] draws from his position” for the “great issues of freedom, justice, trust and fellowship.” I propose in this commentary to first take a broader view of Ernest’s work, locating his social constructivism on the larger canvas of constructivism in science and mathematics education, and then follow Lomas’s more narrowed concerns.

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