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Mathematical Signs and Their Cultural Transmission in Pretend Play

  • Maulfry WorthingtonEmail author
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Abstract

Mathematics is a critical aspect of early childhood curricula and integral to competency in all STEM subjects. Developed historically, the abstract symbolic language of mathematics is a powerful cultural phenomenon. Using a genetic approach to research the beginning mathematical inscriptions of 3–4-year-olds has highlighted their meaning-based symbol use as children move towards the formal, “higher psychological functions” (Vygotsky, 1978, p. 46). Underpinned by Vygotsky’s socio-cultural and social-semiotic theories, this chapter considers from whom and how young children learn the mathematical signs of the established cultural system of mathematics. It investigates intertextuality and modes of cultural transmission, the social learning mechanisms of imitation and emulation whereby teachers, other adults and children transmit cultural knowledge. The findings show the potential of rich pretend play for learning including peer-to-peer natural pedagogy, highlighting the importance of an effective early learning culture and underscoring the extent to which social learning is paramount for mathematics.

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© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Vrije UniversiteitAmsterdamThe Netherlands

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