Document Type


Publication Date

March 2012


In her portion of this session, Wilding-Martin will extend her 2011 PES analysis of Paul Ernest’s proposal for reconstructing high school mathematics. Ernest argues that democratic principles require a differentiated high school mathematics curriculum based on student choice and career goals, with a common core based on mathematics appreciation and critical social awareness to empower students. Wilding-Martin has argued that Ernest’s democratic aims for this curriculum are threatened by mathematical elitism and social power structures. In this session, Wilding-Martin will draw from Nel Noddings’ theory of care to further explore these issues. Noddings also calls for differentiated curricula, but with a de-emphasis on privileged disciplines. Both Ernest and Noddings argue that students should not all be required to complete the traditional mathematics sequence, and that this curriculum can be irrelevant and demoralizing for students who are not mathematically inclined. However, they disagree on what the alternatives should be. Should mathematics education incorporate a liberal arts element to expose students to the intrinsic beauty and power of mathematics, or should it be streamlined to include “just what students need”? Wilding-Martin will explore the philosophical tensions between these two perspectives.


Part of "Reconstructing the High School: Math, Science and Technology," alternative session with David Waddington and Leonard Waks.