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Mathematics Education in Latin America

Abstract

This chapter surveys the establishment and organization of the public education systems in some Latin American countries, pointing out differences and similarities in their evolution. Stressed in the discussion are the importance of postsecondary institutions for the development of mathematics education, the role played by normal schools in several countries, and the arrival of new pedagogical ideas in Latin America at the end of the nineteenth century. We survey the mathematics textbooks used in some of the Latin American countries during the nineteenth century.

Keywords

  • Nineteenth Century
  • Mathematics Education
  • Latin American Country
  • Postsecondary Education
  • Educational Reform

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.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    See Bethell (1998) for a good introduction to the cultural history of Latin America.

  2. 2.

    The author of this chapter thanks the editors for their very useful comments.

  3. 3.

    All translations from Portuguese and Spanish were made by the author of this chapter.

  4. 4.

    Francisco Cordeiro da Silva Torres Alvim (1775–1856) was an engineer and a military man. He was born in Portugal and died in Brazil.

  5. 5.

    Manuel Ferreira de Araújo Guimarães (1777–1838) was a Brazilian who received his postsecondary education in Portugal. He was remarkable as a translator of important mathematics works, both in Brazil and in Portugal.

  6. 6.

    José Victorino dos Santos e Souza (?-1852)

  7. 7.

    Charles Ambroise Lozier (1784–1864) was a French engineer who led a very adventurous life (see Campbell 1959, pp. 357–359; Marcelin 2001).

  8. 8.

    Translated by Andrés Antonio Gorbea (1792–1852) and published between 1833 and 1855

  9. 9.

    In the second case, the two or three last years were required only of students planning to enter engineering schools.

  10. 10.

    For example, 1 h and 23 min is a número complexo (compound number) as opposed to 83 min, a número incomplexo. In nineteenth-century Brazil school mathematics, this term was used to name quantities with non-decimal subunits, like time (seconds, minutes, etc.), money (pence, shillings, pounds), and lengths (inches, feet, etc.). As long as the metrical system had not yet been generally accepted, operating with such quantities constituted a major teaching subject. There was no confusion with the numbers of the form a + ib because they were then called números imaginários.

  11. 11.

    The study of proportions and ratios was purely arithmetical and had nothing to do with Euclid’s treatment of these concepts.

  12. 12.

    The decimal metric system was officially adopted in Brazil by law in 1862, but only in 1872 did this law become effective.

  13. 13.

    The title given by Moctezuma to Bails’ book, Compendio matemático, does not correspond with any of Bails’ published works.

  14. 14.

    The Compendio, strongly influenced by Cauchy’s modern ideas about analysis, was studied by Astudillo (2005).

  15. 15.

    Domeyko (1808–1889) was born in present-day Belarus, migrated to Chile in 1838, and died there in 1889. He studied engineering at École des Mines in Paris and had a strong interest in mathematics. In Chile, he made important contributions to mineralogy and played a major role as a teacher and educator. In 1847, he was made a professor at Instituto Nacional.

  16. 16.

    Domingo Faustino Sarmiento (1811–1888) was a very influential Argentinean intellectual who was president of his country from 1868 till 1874.

  17. 17.

    The program for 1895 has the first mention of the function concept in secondary school mathematics in Brazil.

  18. 18.

    Otto de Alencar, a pioneer Brazilian mathematician, was the first in Brazil to criticize Comte’s mathematics in two papers (Silva 1995).

  19. 19.

    In fact, the two types of teachers coexisted for a long time in Latin America.

  20. 20.

    A strong portrait of Mexico in the 1930s with its anticlericalism is painted in Graham Greene’s The Power and the Glory (1940).

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Correspondence to João Bosco Pitombeira de Carvalho .

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de Carvalho, J.B.P. (2014). Mathematics Education in Latin America. 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_17

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