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Transcending the Kpelle nightmare: personal evolution and excavations. (English)
Philos. Math. Educ. J. 22, 26 p., electronic only (2007).
From the text: At about the time that the “New Math" movement was peaking in the 1960s, there was a fascinating study conducted by a pair of anthropologists who went to Liberia to figure out why the introduction into an ancient culture of Western society’s mathematics program had failed dismally. This venture pre-dated our more recent multi-cultural agenda ‒ one that might have striven to unearth the mathematical insights that the Kpelle tribe of Liberia themselves had to offer Western society. The question that {\it J. Gay} and {\it M. Cole} asked in [The new mathematics and an old culture: a study of learning among the Kpelle of Liberia. London: Holt (1967)], was one that would be considered today to be unabashedly ethnocentric. They wanted to know why our Western program, which focused on an axiomatic, logical development of mathematics, was so poorly received by the Kpelle tribe. This essay is a modified version of one that was written in celebration of the final printed edition of the journal, Humanistic Mathematics Network. I reflect in this essay on the evolution of my own writing about a concept that dominated the US journal ‒ that of humanistic mathematics (education).
Classification: C60 E20 A40 D20
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