Making mathematics phenomenal

Paperback / softback, 36 pages, 210 mm x 148 mm
14 Mar 2012
Institute of Education

Price: £5.00

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An Inaugural Professorial Lecture

Mathematics is often portrayed as an ‘abstract’ cerebral subject, beyond the reach of many. In response, research with digital technology has led to innovative design in which mathematics can be experienced much like everyday phenomena. This lecture examines how careful design can ‘phenomenalise’ mathematics and support not only engagement but also focus on key ideas. It argues that mathematical knowledge gained in this way prioritises the powerful reasons for doing mathematics, imbuing it with a sort of utility and offering learners hooks on which they can gradually develop fluency and connected understanding.

David Pratt illustrates this lecture with examples taken from conventional topics such as number, algebra, geometry and statistics and from novel situations where mathematical methods are juxtaposed with social values. The suggestion that prioritising utility supports a more natural way of learning mathematics emerges directly from constructionist pedagogy and inferentialist philosophy.

  • Dave Pratt

    Professor of Mathematics Education