Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date

6-2-1995

Abstract

Reform of post-secondary mathematics education, particularly introductory calculus, is becoming commonplace across North America. Although there are many varieties of reform, most can be placed within the philosophical camp of social constructivism. According to this movement, mathematical knowledge is constructed in an interactive way through instructor-student and inter-student dialogue, rather than built in an axiomatic sense such as the "new math" of 20 years ago, or in the reductionistic, algorithmic sense dominant in secondary and introductory college mathematics. While I hold serious concerns about the relativizing of mathematical knowledge that occurs when social constructivism is adopted as a philosophy of mathematics, I believe that it sheds light on the educational process, and some of its tenets can be used to enhance pedagogy. Reform has the potential to allow us to teach mathematics with integrity, by presenting our subject in a way that reflects its historical, cultural, and cognitive nature. This paper examines the goals set forth by the social constructivist view of knowledge by reviewing the pedagogy of King's University College, particularly in mathematical laboratories.

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