Can mathematics education and history of mathematics coexist?

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71 Scopus citations


Despite the wide interest in combining mathematics education and the history of mathematics, there are grave and fundamental problems in this effort. The main difficulty is that while one wants to see historical topics in the classroom or an historical approach in teaching, the commitment to teach the modern mathematics and modern mathematical techniques necessary in the pure and applied sciences forces one either to trivialize history or to distort it. In particular, this commitment forces one to adopt a "Whiggish" approach to the history of mathematics. Two possible resolutions of the difficulty are (1) "radical separation" - putting the history of mathematics on a separate track from the ordinary course of instruction, and (2) "radical accommodation" - turning the study of mathematics into the study of mathematical texts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)391-408
Number of pages18
JournalScience and Education
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2001


  • History of mathematics
  • Humanistic mathematics
  • Mathematics education
  • Sedimentation
  • Two-tiered thinking
  • Whiggism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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