COLLEGE OF ARTS AND SCIENCES Department of Mathematics and Statistics

Seminars

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Mathematics Colloquium: Maverick traditions in the philosophy of mathematics & their influence on mathematics education*

2008-11-20

4:10 pm, Neill Hall 5W

Bharath Sriraman

Abstract: Imre Lakatos' book Proofs and Refutations was instrumental in both mathematicians and mathematics educators revisiting fundamental notions in the philosophy of mathematics. The philosophy of mathematics traditionally categorized as Platonism, Formalism, Logicism and Intuitionism has been criticized as conveying an absolutist view of the discipline, quite different from the "maverick" view of mathematics as a humanistic, quasi-empirical activity subject to fallibility. The pendulum swings in mathematics curricula in schools, and the often polarizing positions of mathematicians and mathematics educators on what constitutes teaching and learning school mathematics can be traced to implicit assumptions of these groups on the nature of mathematics. More recently mathematics educators have put forth the view that mathematics is fundamentally social with cultural limitations to its claims of certainty, universality and absoluteness. In this talk, time permitting, we will also examine some of the paradigm shifts in mathematics education, particularly aims, research methods and learning theories with respect to their roots in philosophy. * “This talk is based on a number of conversations with Paul Ernest, the first to put forth social constructivism as a philosophy of mathematics”