# Mathematical paradoxes as pathways into beliefs and polymathy: an experimental inquiry

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## Abstract

This paper addresses the role of mathematical paradoxes in fostering polymathy among pre-service elementary teachers. The results of a 3-year study with 120 students are reported with implications for mathematics pre-service education as well as interdisciplinary education. A hermeneutic-phenomenological approach is used to recreate the emotions, voices and struggles of students as they tried to unravel Russell’s paradox presented in its linguistic form. Based on the gathered evidence some arguments are made for the benefits and dangers in the use of paradoxes in mathematics pre-service education to foster polymathy, change beliefs, discover structures and open new avenues for interdisciplinary pedagogy.

## Keywords

Beliefs Interdisciplinarity Paradoxes Pre-service teacher education Polymathy Russell’s paradox## Supplementary material

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© FIZ Karlsruhe 2008