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Radical Constructivism and Mathematics Education

  • Steffe L
  • Kieren T
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JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact Our intention in this article is to provide an interpretation of the influence of constructivist thought on mathematics educators starting around 1960 and pro-ceeding on up to the present time. First, we indicate how the initial influence of constructivist thought stemmed mainly from Piaget's cognitive-development psychology rather than from his epistemology. In this, we point to what in ret-rospect appears to be inevitable distortions in the interpretations of Piaget's psychology due primarily to its interpretation in the framework of Cartesian epistemology. Second, we identify a preconstructivist revolution in research in mathematics education beginning in 1970 and proceeding on up to 1980. There were two subperiods in this decade separated by Ernst von Glasersfeld's presentation of radical constructivism to the Jean Piaget Society in Philadel-phia in 1975. Third, we mark the beginning of the constructivist revolution in mathematics education research by the publication of two important papers in the JRME (Richards & von Glasersfeld, 1980; von Glasersfeld, 1981). Fourth, we indicate how the constructivist revolution in mathematics education research served as a period of preparation for the reform movement that is cur-rently underway in school mathematics. CARTESIAN EPISTEMOLOGY




Steffe, L. P., & Kieren, T. (1994). Radical Constructivism and Mathematics Education. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, 25(6), 711.

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