1.4 The nature of mathematics
Activity 5 The nature of mathematics
Complete the following prompts:
- Mathematical ideas come from …
- Mathematics is important in schools because …
The first prompt is often answered in terms of where mathematical ideas in the classroom come from:
- books (used in classroom), magazines, colleagues, my brain
- teachers, parents, TV, environment
- surroundings, books, everyday life
- human activity, the world around us.
Other answers are more global, such as:
- life, anywhere and everywhere.
Reasons given for the importance of mathematics (prompt 2) often portray a more personal view of what mathematics is ‘about’. They include:
- its beauty and the support it gives to other disciplines
- it gives a different perspective on things
- it is cross-curricular and, in general, learners will need some mathematics in the world of work
- it promotes logical thought and approaches
- it is involved in so many areas of life
- it is a type of thinking not experienced in many other subjects, as well as a tool for some
- it is a language used across the curriculum and it trains disciplined thinking.
Other reasons are more instrumental. Mathematics is important in schools because:
- it is seen as a measure of academic ability
- a qualification in mathematics is normally a requirement to enter tertiary education.
When you considered your learning of mathematics, did you see it predominantly as a collection of topics (mathematical content) or as a way of thinking (mathematical process)?