Constructivism and the enabling of mathematical thinking
Bell-Hutchinson, C. (2008). Constructivism and the enabling of mathematical thinking. In L. Quamina-Aiyejina (Ed.), Reconceptualising the agenda for education in the Caribbean: Proceedings of the 2007 Biennial Cross-Campus Conference in Education, April 23-26, 2007, School of Education, UWI, St. Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago (pp. 33-46). St. Augustine, Trinidad: School of Education, UWI.
The way mathematics is taught in many Caribbean classrooms often hinders the development of mathematical thinking skills and the attainment of mathematical understanding. This paper puts forward the view that the essential task of mathematics teachers is to enable the construction of meaning in order to facilitate their students' mathematical thinking and mathematical understanding. The paper argues the view that mathematics is not something that exists "out there" but, rather, is an activity that is socially constructed and validated. Findings of research conducted in Jamaica in two Grade 8 mathematics classrooms, where two teachers implemented thinking-focused pedagogy grounded in social constructivist ideology, are discussed, in an attempt to demonstrate how they used strategies that were aimed at the construction of meaning through access to mathematical ideas and the attainment of mathematical understanding. The paper argues that the use of such teaching approaches can fundamentally change the face of mathematics education in Caribbean schools