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Mathematics Education in France: 1800–1980

Abstract

This chapter studies the evolution of mathematics teaching in France from 1800 to about 1980. It investigates the specificities of the teaching of mathematics – aims, content, and methods – for each social class during the first 150 years of this time period and the way democratization impacted this teaching from the 1960s onward . It argues that the evolution and reforms of the teaching of mathematics are not understandable within mathematics education or even within the school system. Rather, the evolution and process of reform prove to be intimately tied to changing conceptions of modernity according to respective social and cultural values and to changing epistemological conceptions of mathematics.

Keywords

  • Primary School
  • Mathematics Teaching
  • Mathematics Teacher
  • Primary System
  • Classical Humanity

These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

The first part of this text relies on “L’enseignement mathématique dans le primaire et le secondaire” written with Renaud d’Enfert (D’Enfert and Gispert 2010, pp. 333–341).

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Notes

  1. 1.

    The structuring of the lycée in the nineteenth century is described in Schubring 2003, pp. 50–52.

  2. 2.

    “Old Regime,” i.e., the political situation of France, with its feudal structures, before the Revolution.

  3. 3.

    These “special schools” are also known as the Grandes Écoles.

  4. 4.

    On the mathematical curricula of the collèges and lycées in the nineteenth century, see Belhoste (1989, 1995). On mathematics teaching in the lycées in the 1830s, see Ehrhardt (2008).

  5. 5.

    This is the result of the law on primary schooling of 1833, presented by François Guizot (Chervel 1992).

  6. 6.

    In many municipal collèges, however, the “regents,” who had neither studied at the ENS nor obtained the agrégation, but simply hold a license, oversaw all teaching in the sciences.

  7. 7.

    On primary schools, see D’Enfert (2003).

  8. 8.

    Circular of September 22, 1863 (Belhoste 1995, pp. 384–388, (citation p. 384).

  9. 9.

    Curriculum of this “enseignement special,” communicated to the headmasters, April 6, 1866 (Belhoste 1995, pp. 413–442, citations p. 418 and 422).

  10. 10.

    See “séance des débats à la chambre, les 12 et 14 février 1902,” in: Journal Officiel p. 666.

  11. 11.

    Concerning Borel’s position, see Gispert 2007, pp. 212–218.

  12. 12.

    Concerning Poincaré’s position, see Gispert 2007, pp. 205–212.

  13. 13.

    Among others, one can mention here Emile Picard and Henri Poincaré (Rollet 2000, pp. 289–291).

  14. 14.

    Declaration of the APMEP to the Parliamentary Commission of 1913, Bulletin no 14, février 1914, and Barbazo and Pombourcq 2010, pp. 29–37.

  15. 15.

    See Barbazo (2010) on the views of APMEP, founded in 1910, regarding the methodology of teaching and their evolution.

  16. 16.

    Projet de programmes de l’enseignement primaire supérieur – Exposé des motifs de juillet 1908 (D’Enfert 2003, pp. 312–315).

  17. 17.

    Latin as a requirement was abolished in 1925, with the reintroduction of modern secondary education into the lycées.

  18. 18.

    Bulletin de l’Association des professeurs de mathématiques de l’enseignement secondaire public, no 104, May 1938, p. 132.

  19. 19.

    “Collège d’enseignement général” (CEG), “Collège d’enseignement technique” (CET), and the first cycle of the lycées.

  20. 20.

    These institutional reforms could also be considered either as a factor in the democratization of the educational system or as a factor of “massification”, that is to say quantitative growth without real change in the social order. One of the arguments for this second interpretation lies in the planning by the State that more than 60 % of the workforce will be without a secondary education or diploma in the 1970s.

  21. 21.

    Circular of January 2, 1970 on teaching mathematics in elementary school, Bulletin officiel de l’éducation nationale (BOEN) no 5 du 29 janvier 1970, p. 349.

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Correspondence to Hélène Gispert .

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Gispert, H. (2014). Mathematics Education in France: 1800–1980. In: Karp, A., Schubring, G. (eds) Handbook on the History of Mathematics Education. Springer, New York, NY. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-9155-2_11

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