ERIC Number: EJ804190
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008-Sep
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 0
School Mathematics and Its Everyday Other? Revisiting Lave's "Cognition in Practice"
Greiffenhagen, Christian; Sharrock, Wes
Educational Studies in Mathematics, v69 n1 p1-21 Sep 2008
In the last three decades there have been a variety of studies of what is often referred to as "everyday" or "street" mathematics. These studies have documented a rich variety of arithmetic practices involved in activities such as tailoring, carpet laying, dieting, or grocery shopping. More importantly, these studies have helped to rectify outmoded models of rationality, cognition, and (school) instruction. Despite these important achievements, doubts can be raised about the ways in which theoretical conclusions have been drawn from empirical materials. Furthermore, while these studies rightly criticized prevalent theories of rationality and cognition as too simplistic to account for everyday activities, it seems that some of the proposed alternatives suffer from similar flaws (i.e., are straightforward inversions of the to-be-opposed theories, rather than more nuanced views on complicated issues). In this article we illustrate our skeptical view by discussing four case studies in Jean Lave's pioneering and influential "Cognition in Practice" (1988). By looking at the case studies in detail, we investigate how Lave's conclusions relate to the empirical materials and offer alternative characterizations. In particular, we question whether the empirical studies demonstrate the existence of two different "kinds" of mathematics ("everyday" and "school," or "formal" and "informal") and whether school instruction tries to replace the former with the latter.
Descriptors: Case Studies, Mathematics Instruction, Educational Theories, Cognitive Processes, Relevance (Education), Mathematical Concepts, Arithmetic
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Publication Type: Information Analyses; Journal Articles; Opinion Papers
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