The Mathematics Of Change And Variation From A Millennial Perspective: New Content, New Context


Kaput, J., & Roschelle, J. (1998). The mathematics of change and variation from a millennial perspective: New content, new context. In C. Hoyles & C. Morgan & G. Woodhouse (Eds.), Rethinking the mathematics curriculum. London, UK: Falmer Press.


In the spirit of the millennial season, this chapter steps back from the front lines of mathematics education reform and looks forward within a long-term perspective. Our perspective draws upon a historical view of the long-term evolution of representations, the transformative potential of new media, and the growing challenges of meeting societal needs. We shall see that there have been enormous changes in all these factors over the past several hundred years. Our means of expressing mathematical ideas have changed and so have our expectations regarding who can learn what mathematics and at what age.

We shall examine large-scale trends in content changes and in context changes for learning and using mathematics. From this set of factors, we raise three broad questions for the present day:

  • Will the movement of mathematics from static–inert to dynamic–computational media lead to a widening of mathematical genres and forms of mathematical reasoning?
  • Will mathematical activity within computational media lead to a democratisation of access to (potentially new forms of) mathematical reasoning?
  • Can these changes transform our notions of a core mathematics curriculum for all learners?

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