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The art of mathematics: bedding down for a new era

Brown, Tony (2007) The art of mathematics: bedding down for a new era. ISSN 0013-1857


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Comparisons made between art and mathematics so often centre on the beauty of mathematics and how its forms might be seen as aesthetically pleasing. Yet the prominence of beauty as an attribute is less prevalent in contemporary art. Rather, art has a much broader scope of concern, perhaps with a greater emphasis on providing apparatus through which we might better understand who we are. This paper considers some performative aspects of contemporary art and draws parallels with some examples of mathematical activity within educative contexts. It argues that the performative dimension of mathematics is underemphasised in school activity and that the social and linguistic conditioning of mathematics within performance is a crucial aspect of the discipline being addressed in school and vocational courses. In particular, proficiency with concretisations of mathematics and the social dynamics that attend these is integral to the broader proficiency of moving between concrete and abstract domains.

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