INTRODUCTION TO THEMATIC ISSUE
“The Use of History of Mathematics in Mathematics Education”
The question of the integration of the History of Mathematics in Mathematics Education has been discussed since the 20th century by Educators (Barwell, Brousseau, Freudental, Piaget), Philosophers (Bachelard), Mathematicians (Klein, Poincare), and Historians of Mathematics (Loria, Smith), who have supported the proposal and have given arguments on the interest and challenges in school Mathematics courses.
Since the 1960s the use of the history of mathematics in mathematics education has become more popular and many papers in scientific journals, books, proceedings of conferences and groups of researchers have focused on this in contrast to the paradigm of the “modern mathematics” reform. We can find many didactical situations, mathematical problems, teaching series but also empirical and theoretical studies, Master and Phd level dissertations on the role and the ways of using historical, social and cultural elements in the teaching of mathematics. During the 2nd International Congress on Mathematics Education (ICME) in 1972 we have the creation of an International research group (International study group on the relation between the History and Pedagogy of Mathematics (HPM)) which organizes a congress every 4 years. The idea of a European Summer University (ESU) on the Epistemology and History in Mathematics Education started from the Instituts Universitaires de Formation de Maîtres (IUFM) in France, and an ESU is organized every three years in different European countries. Since 2009 in the context of the Congress of the European Society for Mathematics Education (CERME) we have also the appearance of a discussion group on The Role of History of Mathematics in Mathematics Education: Theory and Research (WG 12). This group also concentrates on empirical research. We should also mention the publication of the ICMI study History in mathematics education: the ICMI study (Fauvel & van Maanen, 2000) which presents the state of the art until this period.
Since the publication of this study, researchers address in a more demanding way questions about the efficacy and pertinence of many efforts (examples) of applications in classrooms. They are also wondering about the transferability of positive experiences from educators on different levels of education. They are considering questions on the capacity of students but also of educators when they were in front of the difficulties of studying the historical aspect of many notions.
Recently researchers΄ activities are moving to investigations in terms of didactic and educational foundations from which they believe that it could be possible to think better about the role of the history of mathematics in the teaching and learning of mathematics and the development of theoretical and conceptual frameworks which could provide the required equipment for the production of finer and more focus investigations.
These issues include, among others, the educational and teaching foundations of a cultural-historical perspective in the classroom, the need to give voice to community stakeholders about the introduction and more broadly, the nature and the terms of the empirical investigation prevailing in the research environment.
Parallel to these advancements in research, an attempt to humanize Mathematics is increasingly present in the mathematics curricula worldwide.
For over 20 years, the presence of the history of mathematics in training teachers’ environments has increased considerably in many countries. However, despite the different objectives associated with the introduction of the history of mathematics in training mathematics teachers, this presence, implicit or explicit, took the form of specific initiatives for each establishment of teacher training.
By browsing through the literature since 1990, it is possible to classify the empirical studies on the use of history in the mathematics classroom into two categories: studies that relate to the narrative of grounded experiences and quantitative studies on a larger scale.
Overall, it appears necessary to restore the research field on the introduction of History in the teaching and learning of mathematics within Didactics of mathematics and more generally with the educational sciences. This repositioning should enable research to get inspired from the contexts of the exploratory work from Humanities as well as theoretical, conceptual and methodological issues from the Didactics of mathematics and educational sciences.
This issue includes eight invited papers. Six papers are written in English and two in French. Each text is accompanied by an abstract in English. The following papers discuss specific issues in the domain of Using History of Mathematics in Mathematics Education and are ordered according to the instructional level; from elementary school to the university and in service teachers training.