Wednesday, 9 November 2016

I am not joining in with pseudo-context bashing

I'm not. I mean, I get it, there are some lame and damaging attempts at putting mathematics in to context. I understand the problem and am both equally amused and frustrated by some of the things that come up, but sweeping pseudo-context bashing is too easy. As I see the thread streaming past I am reminded of 2 things..

1. Einstein's wonderful quote about mathematics and reality - As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain, and as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality.Ok so there is a lot there, but the opposite of easy pseudo context bashing might be to claim that - in the light of this quote - all context is questionable. That position would be equally flawed.

2. In part of my brief research in to context I explored Ole Skovsmose's 'An invitation to critical mathematics education' and his 6 milieu for activity that can take place in the 'abstract', the 'real' or the 'semi real'.The semi real has a role. 

The only problem with pseudo context is when there is an attempt to convince students its not a pseudo context. We should always think about it, but being sweepingly dismissive is usually a mistake. The definition and role of context in mathematics is a rich area for investigation. For that reason, it is important to be clear that I am not dismissing pseudo-context bashing, I am just not joining in!

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