for the learning of mathematics

an international journal of mathematics education

Tony Wing - Vol. 29 Num. 2 (2009)
 The post-Piagetian child: Early mathematical developments and a role for structured materials


It is argued that the discourse currently regulating early years mathematical development in the UK and elsewhere is 'producing its own truths' in an unhelpfully narrowing way, restricting the objects, imagery, and symbols involved to those arising within 'everyday' or 'realistic' situations, and producing an apparently 'natural' development to calculating through a sequence of counting-in-ones procedures. Utilising the work of Sfard (2008), it is claimed that a discursive mathematical development may build with the use of any physical objects, including structured materials such as Dienes blocks and Cuisenaire rods, since it is through their use within a discourse that they come to signify. Consequently many different 'mathematical developments' are possible, each a function of the particular signifiers introduced.