By Wendy Lesley Millroy
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Extra resources for An Ethnographic Study of the Mathematical Ideas of a Group of Carpenters (Journal for Research in Mathematics Education. Monograph, N.? 5)
Is frequentlycriticizedas beingsusceptibleto relativism;skeptics Constructivism claim thatsince thereis no "certainknowledge"to appealto, theneverybody'sknowledge mustbe equallyvalid (Confrey,1985,p. 5). However,suchcriticismignoresthe fact that the "roleof others"in the constructionprocessis a fundamentalaspectof constructivism withothersandby interpretingthe acts of (Confrey,1985,p. 5). Throughcommunication others,we receivefeedbackaboutourconstructions. The constructionprocessof mathematical knowledgedescribedby Confrey(1987, 1991) occurs in partas the resultof repeatedcycles of actionandreflectionon a problematic(see Figure 2).
The researchprogramis beingcarriedoutby collectingexampleson the mathematical groupsandlinkingthesepracticesto patternsof practicesof culturallydifferentiated reasoningandmodesof thought. Ethnomathematics portrayedsimultaneouslyas the studyof mathematicswithina cultural,historical,and framework,as well as "themathematicswhichis practicedamong anthropological identifiableculturalgroups"(1985, p. , the mathematicsitself is also called D'Ambrosiogives few practicalguidelinesas to whatspecifically ethnomathematics).
86). In the exampledescribed,the firstchildhada zone of fourandthe secondhada zone of one. Throughthe introductionto the child of the use of society's tools andtechniquesandtheirpracticein the child's zone of proximal developmentwith moreexperiencedmembersof society,individualdevelopmentis guided by the social world(Wertsch& Rogoff, 1984). The Vygotskianschoolconsiders"activity"as the basic unitof studyin psychology. Wertschet al. (1984, p. Vygotsky'stheoryis of particular interestfor the presentstudyin the carpentryworkshop,wherelearningoccursin a system of apprenticeship.