Encyclopedia of Mathematics Education

2020 Edition
| Editors: Stephen Lerman

Realistic Mathematics Education

  • Marja Van den Heuvel-PanhuizenEmail author
  • Paul Drijvers
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-15789-0_170

What is Realistic Mathematics Education?

Realistic Mathematics Education – hereafter abbreviated as RME – is a domain-specific instruction theory for mathematics, which has been developed in the Netherlands. Characteristic of RME is that rich, “realistic” situations are given a prominent position in the learning process. These situations serve as a source for initiating the development of mathematical concepts, tools, and procedures and as a context in which students can in a later stage apply their mathematical knowledge, which then gradually has become more formal and general and less context specific.

Although “realistic” situations in the meaning of “real-world” situations are important in RME, “realistic” has a broader connotation here. It means students are offered problem situations which they can imagine. This interpretation of “realistic” traces back to the Dutch expression “zich REALISEren,” meaning “to imagine.” It is this emphasis on making something real in your mind that...


Domain-specific teaching theory Realistic contexts Mathematics as a human activity Mathematization 
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Authors and Affiliations

  • Marja Van den Heuvel-Panhuizen
    • 1
    Email author
  • Paul Drijvers
    • 2
  1. 1.Freudenthal Institute for Science and Mathematics Education, Faculty of Science and Faculty of Social and Behavioural SciencesUtrecht UniversityUtrechtThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Freudenthal InstituteUtrecht UniversityUtrechtThe Netherlands