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Mathematics teachers as moral educators: the implications of conceiving of mathematics as a technology

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Abstract:

Mathematics educators often fail to see that their subject has social and ethical dimensions. If anything, mathematics is seen as a neutral tool that has a social dimension only because it can be used to solve social problems. This study critically examines this idea by arguing that, although school mathematics is indeed a technology, technology is never ethically neutral. Mathematics technology is not neutral because it leaves out aspects of reality as it represents and simulates that reality and because it alters conceptions of what constitutes the social world. Ethical non-neutrality arises in mathematics education as quantitative problem-solving becomes paradigmatic for all problem-solving, pushing students toward a pattern of moral deliberation that parallels utilitarianism. This study discusses an activity intended to teach quantitative problem-solving while at the same time reflecting on its potential effects and limits.

Keywords: ethics; mathematics education; technology

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/00220270600977683

Publication date: 2007-06-01

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