for the learning of mathematics

an international journal of mathematics education

Michael Rumbelow - Vol. 41 Num. 2 (2021)
 One, You, She: object relations as grounding metaphors for learning mathematics


Where Mathematics Comes From (Lakoff & Núñez 2000) proposed that mathematical concepts such as arithmetic and counting are constructed cognitively from embodied metaphors of actions on physical objects, and four actions, or ‘grounding metaphors’ in particular: collecting, stepping, constructing and measuring. This article argues that these actions are accessible too late in children’s development to be true grounding metaphors. I explore the possibility of earlier grounding metaphors for learning mathematics based on object relations psychology and the dyadic and triadic relationships with human love objects which babies develop soon after birth: the metaphors of Becoming Two and Becoming Three.