Review of Does Mathematical Study Develop Logical Thinking? Testing the Theory of Formal Discipline

  • Hyman Bass
  • Deborah Loewenberg Ball

I told myself, “Lincoln, you can never make a lawyer if you do not understand what demonstrate means.” So I left my situation in Springfield, went home to my father’s house, and stayed there till I could give any proposition in the six books of Euclid at sight. I then found out what “demonstrate” means, and went back to my law studies.1— Abraham Lincoln

Mathematics, together with language arts, dominates much of the K-12 curriculum. Why are students compelled to study so much mathematics, and now even further encouraged to study more advanced mathematics? These questions are the subject of continuing discussion and debate, currently shaped by the growth of science and technology. But an ancient and enduring claim, called “the theory of formal discipline,” is that mathematical study develops logical thinking. This is questioned by the study reported in the book of Matthew Inglis and Nina Attridge (2017) reviewed here. We first summarize the study’s design and findings before appraising...


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Education, Department of Mathematics, College of Literature, Science, and the ArtsAnn ArborUSA
  2. 2.University of Michigan School of EducationAnn ArborUSA

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