Oct 13, 2012

Philosophy of Mathematics Education: Ernest's Vision

By Marsigit
Yogyakarta State University

Philosophy of mathematics education covers the review of some central problems of mathematics education: its ideology, its foundation and its aim. It also serves a more insight into the nature of its aspects: the nature of mathematics, the value of mathematics, the nature of student, the nature of learning, the nature of teaching of mathematics, the nature of teaching learning resources, the nature of assessment, the nature of school mathematics, the nature of students’ learn mathematics. In order to have a clear picture of the role of the study of philosophy of mathematics and its relationship to workshop activities, it may be discussed about the nature of human resources development and the nature of lesson study in mathematics education.
According to Paul Ernest (1994), the study of philosophy of mathematics education implies to the practice of mathematics teaching through the issues reflected on the following questions:
“What theories and epistemologies underlie the teaching of mathematics? What assumptions, possibly implicit, do mathematics teaching approaches rest on? Are these assumptions valid? What means are adopted to achieve the aims of mathematics education? Are the ends and means consistent? What methods, resources and techniques are, have been, and might be, used in the teaching of mathematics? What theories underpin the use of different information and communication technologies in teaching mathematics? What sets of values do these technologies bring with them, both intended and unintended? What is it to know mathematics in satisfaction of the aims of teaching mathematics? How can the teaching and learning of mathematics be evaluated and assessed? What is the role of the teacher? What range of roles is possible in the intermediary relation of the teacher between mathematics and the learner? What are the ethical, social and epistemological boundaries to the actions of the teacher? What mathematical knowledge does the teacher need? What impact do the teacher’s beliefs, attitudes and personal philosophies of mathematics have on practice? How should mathematics teachers be educated? What is the difference between educating, training and developing mathematics teachers?”
In a more general perspective, it can be said that the philosophy of mathematics education has aims to clarify and answer the questions about the status and the foundation of mathematics education objects and methods, that is, ontologically clarify the nature of each component of mathematics education, and epistemologically clarify whether all meaningful statements of mathematics education have objective and determine the truth. Perceiving that the laws of nature, the laws of mathematics, the laws of education have a similar status, the very real world of the form of the objects of mathematics education forms the foundation of mathematics education.


1 Ernest, P., 1994, Mathematics, Education and Philosophy: An International Perspective. The Falmer Press: London.

2 Ernest, P., 2002, What Is The Philosophy Of Mathematics Education?
Paul Ernest University of Exeter, United Kingdom. Retrieved

3 Ernest, P., 2007, Mathematics Education Ideologies And Globalization. Retrieved

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