Early Childhood Education Journal

, Volume 36, Issue 4, pp 297–303 | Cite as

Educating the Young Mathematician: A Historical Perspective Through the Nineteenth Century



Educational programs for young children emerged reasonably early in the history of the United States of America. Its theoretical foundation was based on the thoughts and principles of various early European scholars who differed from one another in their educational theories and how they viewed experiences that would impact on young children’s education, including their mathematics experiences. The movements of Children’s Arithmetic, Mental Arithmetic, the infant school, and the Froebel kindergarten all influenced mathematics in early childhood education. This article reviews the history of mathematics education in relation to the history of early childhood education through the nineteenth century. It also discusses how research in mathematics education attempted to gain its own identity. Throughout history, researchers have identified issues in mathematics education and addressed them, defining the field, and generating a cadre of mathematics researchers.


 History Early childhood mathematics 


  1. American Journal of Education. (1828). American Journal of Education, 3, 693.Google Scholar
  2. Balfanz, R. (1999). Why do we teach young children so little mathematics? Some historical considerations. In J. V. Copley (Ed.) Mathematics in the early years. Reston, Virginia/Washington, DC: National Council of Teachers of Mathematics/National Association for the Education of Young Children.Google Scholar
  3. Beatty, F. (1995). Preschool education in America: The culture of young children from the colonial era to the present. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  4. Bidwell, J. K., & Classon, R. G. (Eds.). (1970). Readings in the history of mathematics education. Washington, DC: National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.Google Scholar
  5. Brosterman, N. (1997). Inventing kindergarten. New York: Harry N. Abrams.Google Scholar
  6. Cohen, P. C. (1999). A calculating people: The spread of numeracy in early America. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  7. Colburn, W. (1821). First lessons, or, intellectual arithmetic on the plan of Pestalozzi. Boston: Cummings, Hillard, & Co.Google Scholar
  8. Colburn, W. (1822). First lessons, or intellectual arithmetic on the plan of Pestalozzi, with some improvements (2nd ed.). Boston: Cummings, Hillard, & Co.Google Scholar
  9. Colburn, W. (1826). Arithmetic upon the inductive method of instruction. Boston: Cummings, Hillard, & Co.Google Scholar
  10. Comenius, J. A. (1956). The school of infancy. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.Google Scholar
  11. Connecticut Common Journal. (1839). Connecticut Common Journal, 2, 31.Google Scholar
  12. Dewey, J. (1916). Democracy and education: An introduction to the philosophy of education. New York: Macmillan. For an electronic version see http://manybooks.net/authors/deweyjoh.html.
  13. Dossey, J. A. (1992). The nature of mathematics: Its role and influence. In D. A. Grouws (Ed.), Handbook of research on mathematics teaching and learning (pp. 39–48). New York: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  14. Goodrich, S. (1818). The children’s arithmetic. Hartford, CT: Samuel G. Goodrich.Google Scholar
  15. Green, J. A. (1905). The educational ideas of pestalozzi. London: W. B. Clive, University Tutorial Press. Retrieved book on 2 August 2008 from http://core.roehampton.ac.uk/digital/froarc/greenedu/titlefly.pdf.
  16. Gutek, G. L. (1968). Pestalozzi and education. New York: Random House.Google Scholar
  17. Harris, W. T. (1899). Two kinds of kindergarten. Kindergarten Review, 9, 603–605.Google Scholar
  18. International Commission on the Teaching of Mathematics. (1911). Mathematics in the elementary schools. In J. K. Bidwell, & R. G. Classon (Eds.), Readings in the history of mathematics education (pp. 280–360). Washington, DC: National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.Google Scholar
  19. North American Review. (1822). Colburn’s arithmetic. The North American review, 14(35), 381–384.Google Scholar
  20. Ptolemy, C. (1952). The almagest. In R. M. Hutchins (Ed.), Great books of the western world, vol 16 Ptolemy: Copernicus & Kepler (pp. 1–478). Chicago: Encyclopedia Britannica.Google Scholar
  21. Saracho, O. N., & Spodek, B. Educating the young mathematician: The twentieth century and beyond. Journal of Early Child Education. doi:10.1007/s10643-008-0293-9.
  22. Saracho, O. N., & Spodek, B. (2006). Roots of early childhood education in America. In M. Takeuchi, & R. Scott (Eds.), New Directions for Early Childhood Education and Care in the 21st Century: International Perspectives (pp. 252–277). Cedar falls, IA: Martin Quam Press.Google Scholar
  23. Spodek, B. (1973). Early childhood education. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
  24. Spodek, B., & Saracho, O. N. (1994). Right from the start: Teaching children ages three to eight. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.Google Scholar
  25. Strickland, C. E. (1982). Paths not taken: Seminal models of early childhood education. In B. Spodek (Ed.), Handbook of research in early childhood education (pp. 321–340). New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  26. Thorndike, E. L. (1903). Notes on psychology for kindergarteners. Teachers College Record, 4, 45–76.Google Scholar
  27. Vinovskis, M. A. (1995). A ray of millennial light: Early education and social reform in the infant school movement in Massachusetts. In M. A. Vinovskis (Ed.), Education, society, and economic opportunity: A historical perspective on persistent issues (pp. 1826–1840). New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Curriculum and InstructionUniversity of MarylandCollege ParkUSA
  2. 2.Department of Curriculum and InstructionUniversity of IllinoisChampaignUSA

Personalised recommendations