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The History of Mathematics Education: Developing a Research Methodology

Abstract

The aim of this chapter is to discuss answers to two basic questions: what does the history of mathematics education investigate, and how does it carry out its investigation? Consequently, the discussion addresses various directions of research that seem to be interesting, methods and forms of analysing and interpreting sources in the history of mathematics education, as well as the question of what may constitute such sources. This chapter concludes by addressing existing myths in the history of mathematics education.

Keywords

  • Mathematics Education
  • Historical Study
  • Historical Research
  • Mathematics Textbook
  • Historical Method

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.

    In one respected American pedagogical journal, I have had occasion recently to read a teacher’s disquisition about how she tried to open the eyes of 6-year-old children to the fact that one should not say that the three little pigs from the well-known story are good and the wolf is bad. In reality, they just have different perspectives. (In support of this proposition, it was pointed out how pleasant it can be to eat some good ham.)

  2. 2.

    In reality, analysis of the biographies of persons who did obtain an education shows that the authorities monitored adherence to the established order quite closely: when, for example, a graduate from St. Petersburg’s Third Gymnasium was discovered to have been originally admitted to the school from among the low-level social strata without the requisite forms and permissions, the director was quite severely reprimanded (No author 1835).

  3. 3.

    The Russian writer Alexander Herzen wrote: “The power of the governor in general grows in direct proportion to the distance from St. Petersburg, but it grows geometrically in gubernias where there is no gentry” (Herzen 1956, p. 237). The researcher of education in Novgorod and Vyatka during the 1830s must take these considerations into account.

  4. 4.

    The same Herzen relates how the German traveler Humboldt, who was accompanied by a Cossack, inquired of the latter about the temperature of the water in a spring that they had come to. The Cossack “put up a stony front and replied: ‘whatever duty demands, Your Grace – and we are glad to do what we can,’ since to himself he thought: ‘No, sir, you won’t put anything over on me’” (Herzen 1956, p. 126). And the question in this case concerned merely a measurement of temperature, something far more simple than any measurement of education.

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Karp, A. (2014). The History of Mathematics Education: Developing a Research Methodology. 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_2

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