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By Wendy Lesley Millroy

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Additional info for An Ethnographic Study of the Mathematical Ideas of a Group of Carpenters (Journal for Research in Mathematics Education. Monograph, N.? 5)

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Thisis not the only etymologicalproblem since withoutthe correctsuffix to denote"thestudy faced by the word"ethnomathematics," of," this meaningintendedby bothD'Ambrosioandthe Aschersis sureto remainobscure. ). The primarypurposeof investigatingthe differentkindsof mathematicsgeneratedby differentculturalgroupsis to broadenourconceptionof mathematicsandnot to separateandlabelculture-specific categoriesof mathematicalthinking. Gerdes(1985, 1986, 1988a,1988b)expressesgreatconcernaboutthe mathematics thathas been generatedwithinthe Mozambicancultureandthatis in dangerof being lost.

In the studyby de la Rocha(1985)withparticipants in a WeightWatchersdieting of foods, the emphasiswas also on program,a programthatrequiresprecisemeasurement time savingandefficiencyandnot on employingschool-learnedarithmeticskills. The samecontainerwas then used repeatedlyto eliminatethe needfor continualmeasuring. Forinstance,insteadof collectingitemsfromshelves in the warehouse in the sequencelaid out by the orderforms,dairyworkersorganizedandcoordinatedtheir activitiesin such a way as to minimizethe distanceto be traveledaroundthe huge warehouse.

Lakatosgives a vivid illustrationof how mathematicalknowledgeis The studentsrepresent constructedfromthe interactionsof a groupof mathematicians. It seemsclearthatLakatossupportedthe idea thatmathematicalknowledge is socially constructedandis not individuallydiscovered,butit is doubtfulthathis concept of communitiesincludedpeopleotherthanprofessionalmathematicians. Tymoczkostatesthatthe primeconcernof the philosophyof mathematicsshouldbe to arguefor therole of thecommunityof mathematicians insteadof He arguesthatmathematicsis a human focusingon one individual,isolatedmathematician.

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