On the Educational Legacies of Jonathan M. Borwein

  • Naomi Simone Borwein
  • Judy-anne Heather OsbornEmail author
Conference paper
Part of the Springer Proceedings in Mathematics & Statistics book series (PROMS, volume 313)


This chapter describes possible legacies in mathematical culture and education of the work and influence of Jonathan M. Borwein. Three lenses are applied: views expressed by members of the community in a panel session on “Maths, Education, Research and Culture” at the Jonathan M Borwein Commemorative Conference, September 2017; scholarship of schisms, divisions and disciplinarity; and Jonathan’s own words describing his practice of experimental mathematics and a philosophy of mathematical humanism. His work has evident potential for lasting transformational effect for the good of mathematics education, which emerges from each of our three different lenses. This potential is complex and rich. Jonathan’s defining impact on experimental mathematics as a research approach is entwined with his view of experimental mathematics as a teaching methodology, and provides the ground for one such legacy. In both research and educational uses of experimental “mathodology”, Jonathan’s aim was the creation of insight and intuition, and in this context his work and writing draws our attention to the significance of tools in enabling and extending human capacity. Another facet of legacy is the spanning of math/education schisms that is exemplified by Jonathan as an interdisciplinary practitioner whose work was influenced by his early love of history and his profound appreciation of music, art and philosophy. Jonathan’s writing extended beyond mathematics into various areas including educational scholarship and the philosophy of mathematics. His role as a public intellectual fostered another potential legacy: modelling a newly vigorous stewardship of mathematics by the collective custodians of the discipline.



We thank CARMA and our co-organisers in the Jonathan Borwein Commemorative Conference (JBCC). Thanks to the many JBCC participants who gave their permission to be anonymously quoted. And thank you to Jon for a lifetime of boundary-breaking research and pedagogical exploration.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Naomi Simone Borwein
    • 1
  • Judy-anne Heather Osborn
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Faculty of EducationWestern UniversityLondonCanada
  2. 2.School of Mathematical and Physical SciencesThe University of NewcastleNewcastleAustralia

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