Human Mathematical Abilities: From Intuition to the Classroom and Back

Sunday, 15 February 2015: 8:30 AM-11:30 AM
Room LL20B (San Jose Convention Center)
Mathematics is often viewed as an abstract and formal discipline governed by symbolic expressions and abstract rules. But how are mathematical concepts represented in the mind, and how is mathematics best taught? The question is central to educating ourselves and our children to understand and contribute across all areas of science and technology. Researchers have identified intuitive abilities related to mathematics that are present in young children and nonhuman animals and are related to success in learning mathematics. Importantly, these abilities are shaped by experience, and experience with mathematical content may even give rise to new abilities, including culturally defined representations and processes that become part of our mathematical intuitions and serve as building blocks as we advance to higher levels of understanding. The symbolic expressions and abstract rules of formal mathematics are seen as culturally defined in this perspective, so that intuition meets mathematics in the classroom, and the classroom shapes mathematical intuition. These ways of construing the nature of mathematics knowledge and mathematics learning will be the subject of this symposium. Speakers include researchers who study the development and neural basis of natural cognitive abilities related to mathematics and the influence of experience learning mathematics on these abilities. The implications for how we should teach mathematics will also be considered.
James L. McClelland, Stanford University
Susan Goldin-Meadow, University of Chicago
Elizabeth Spelke, Harvard University
Core Systems of Number and Geometry
Mitchell J. Nathan, University of Wisconsin
Proto-Algebraic Strategies
Philip J. Kellman, University of California
Perceptual Learning in Mathematics
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