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Theories of learning mathematics

Publication Date
  • 130202 Curriculum And Pedagogy Theory And Development
  • Complexity
  • Learning Theories
  • Models And Modeling
  • Models Versus Theories
  • Theories Of Mathematics Education
  • Philosophy


According to Karl Popper, widely regarded as one of the greatest philosophers of science in the 20th century, falsifiability is the primary characteristic that distinguishes scientific theories from ideologies – or dogma. For example, for people who argue that schools should treat creationism as a scientific theory, comparable to modern theories of evolution, advocates of creationism would need to become engaged in the generation of falsifiable hypothesis, and would need to abandon the practice of discouraging questioning and inquiry. Ironically, scientific theories themselves are accepted or rejected based on a principle that might be called survival of the fittest. So, for healthy theories on development to occur, four Darwinian functions should function: (a) variation – avoid orthodoxy and encourage divergent thinking, (b) selection – submit all assumptions and innovations to rigorous testing, (c) diffusion – encourage the shareability of new and/or viable ways of thinking, and (d) accumulation – encourage the reuseability of viable aspects of productive innovations.

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