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ERIC Number: EJ936879
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011
Pages: 5
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0228-0671
Productive Ambiguity in the Learning of Mathematics
Foster, Colin
For the Learning of Mathematics, v31 n2 p3-7 2011
In this paper I take a positive view of ambiguity in the learning of mathematics. Following Grosholz (2007), I argue that it is not only the arts which exploit ambiguity for creative ends but science and mathematics too. By enabling the juxtaposition of multiple conflicting frames of reference, ambiguity allows novel connections to be made. I describe a classroom episode in which students discuss their understandings of volume and surface area and in which definitional ambiguity plays a significant role. Had precise definitions been offered explicitly beforehand, the potential for rich mathematical thought would have been dramatically diminished.
FLM Publishing Association. 382 Education South, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta T6G 2G5, Canada. e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A