Behaviourism: The bane of school mathematics

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper discusses the role behaviourism is playing in the current development of school mathematics. A discussion of the underlying philosophy and wide-spread use of behaviourism concludes with the recommendation that the behaviouristic model should not be used in constructing mathematics curricula. The behaviouristic approach to education seems appropriate only for those aspects of a curriculum which are concerned with skill development. Behaviourism equates training with education, and a blanket adoption of such a philosophy for all of school mathematics misses the heart and essence of the mathematics discipline. This paper argues against embedding mathematics curricula within the behaviouristic framework, and thus presents a plea for us to re-evaluate the objectives of school mathematics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)163-171
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Mathematical Education in Science and Technology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Jan 1975
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mathematics (miscellaneous)
  • Education
  • Applied Mathematics


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