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Don't throw the baby out with the math water: Why discounting the developmental foundations of early numeracy is premature and unnecessary

  • Kevin Muldoon (a1), Charlie Lewis (a2) and Norman Freeman (a3)

We see no grounds for insisting that, because the concept natural number is abstract, its foundations must be innate. It is possible to specify domain general learning processes that feed into more abstract concepts of numerical infinity. By neglecting the messiness of children's slow acquisition of arithmetical concepts, Rips et al. present an idealized, unnecessarily insular, view of number development.

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Freeman N. H., Antonucci C. & Lewis C. (2000) Representation of the cardinality principle: Early conception of error in a counterfactual test. Cognition 74:7189.
Haylock D. & Cockburn A. (2003) Understanding mathematics in the lower primary years. Paul Chapman.
Karmiloff-Smith A. (1992) Beyond modularity. MIT Press.
Margolis E. & Laurence S. (2008) How to learn the natural numbers: Inductive inference and the acquisition of number concepts. Cognition 106:924–39.
Muldoon K., Lewis C. & Francis B. (2007) Using cardinality to compare quantities: The role of social-cognitive conflict in the development of basic arithmetical skills. Developmental Science 10:694711.
Muldoon K., Lewis C. & Freeman N. H. (2003) Putting counting to work: Preschoolers' understanding of cardinal extension. International Journal of Educational Research 39:695718.
Muldoon K. P., Lewis C. & Towse J. (2005) Because it's there! Why children count, rather than infer, corresponding sets. Cognitive Development 20:472–91.
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Behavioral and Brain Sciences
  • ISSN: 0140-525X
  • EISSN: 1469-1825
  • URL: /core/journals/behavioral-and-brain-sciences
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