Title:

Philosophy of mathematics education

This thesis supports the view that mathematics teachers should be aware of differing views of the nature of mathematics and of a range of teaching perspectives. The first part of the thesis discusses differing ways in which the subject 'mathematics' can be identified, by relying on existing philosophy of mathematics. The thesis describes three traditionally recognised philosophies of mathematics: logicism, formalism and intuitionism. A fourth philosophy is constructed, the hypothetical, bringing together the ideas of Peirce and of Lakatos, in particular. The second part of the thesis introduces differing ways of teaching mathematics, and identifies the logical and sometimes contingent connections that exist between the philosophies of mathematics discussed in part 1, and the philosophies of mathematics teaching that arise in part 2. Four teaching perspectives are outlined: the teaching of mathematics as aestheticallyorientated, the teaching of mathematics as a game, the teaching of mathematics as a member of the natural sciences, and the teaching of mathematics as technologyorientated. It is argued that a possible fifth perspective, the teaching of mathematics as a language, is not a distinctive approach. A further approach, the Interdisciplinary perspective, is recognised as a valid alternative within previously identified philosophical constraints. Thus parts 1 and 2 clarify the range of interpretations found in both the philosophy of mathematics and of mathematics teaching and show that they present realistic choices for the mathematics teacher. The foundations are thereby laid for the arguments generated in part 3, that any mathematics teacher ought to appreciate the full range of teaching 4 perspectives which may be chosen and how these link to views of the nature of mathematics. This would hopefully reverse 'the trend at the moment ... towards excessively narrow interpretation of the subject' as reported by Her Majesty's Inspectorate (Aspects of Secondary Education in England, 7.6.20, H. M. S. O., 1979). While the thesis does not contain infallible prescriptions it is concluded that the technologyorientated perspective supported by the hypothetical philosophy of mathematics facilitates the aims of those educators who show concern for the recognition of mathematics in the curriculum, both for its intrinsic and extrinsic value. But the main thrust of the thesis is that the training of future mathematics educators must include opportunities for gaining awareness of the diversity of teaching perspectives and the influence on them of philosophies of mathematics.
