## Abstract

Algebra is a central element of the curriculum in mathematics. In most parts of the world, a significant proportion of lower secondary school curricula in mathematics is devoted to algebra. The chapter introduces the origins of school algebra as well as issues related to how teaching and learning have been organized. What constitutes important elements of algebra as a school subject is discussed in light of the extensive literature on algebra and early algebra. Learning obstacles related to variables and representations are frequently observed in the literature, and constitutes the background for the empirical research project, VIDEOMAT, reported in this volume.

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