Anthropology in the Mathematics Classroom?

Part of the Mathematics Education Library book series (MELI, volume 14)


Anthropology used to be the study of exotic, or at the least non-western cultures. Although its range has been expanded over the decades to include the study of western subjects and that of intercultural interaction and communication (be it in the West or elsewhere), mathematics and mathematics education is still rarely connected to anthropology. So what can anthropology offer to the mathematics teachers? In my opinion, insights from at least four different foci of anthropological research are relevant for the mathematics teacher in general, whichever cultural group she is teaching: types of learning; cognitive contents; language structure and institutional aspects of teaching. Some of these may be closely interrelated in a particular perspective (e.g., language structure and cognitive contents for the linguistic relativist — see below), but analytically each can be distinguished from the next one. Each one of these imply both theoretical and practical knowledge. However, before I start on this journey, I have to state my position in the debate on the nature of the subject matter of teaching, that is on the nature of mathematics.


Mathematics Teacher Mathematical Knowledge Mathematics Classroom Immigrant Child Language Structure 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyState University of GhentGhentBelgium

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