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Thinking as Communicating
Human Development, the Growth of Discourses, and Mathematizing


Part of Learning in Doing: Social, Cognitive and Computational Perspectives

  • Author: Anna Sfard, University of Haifa, Israel and Michigan State University
  • Date Published: April 2010
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521161541

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About the Authors
  • This book is an attempt to change our thinking about thinking. Anna Sfard undertakes this task convinced that many long-standing, seemingly irresolvable quandaries regarding human development originate in ambiguities of the existing discourses on thinking. Standing on the shoulders of Vygotsky and Wittgenstein, the author defines thinking as a form of communication. The disappearance of the time-honoured thinking-communicating dichotomy is epitomised by Sfard's term, commognition, which combines communication with cognition. The commognitive tenet implies that verbal communication with its distinctive property of recursive self-reference may be the primary source of humans' unique ability to accumulate the complexity of their action from one generation to another. The explanatory power of the commognitive framework and the manner in which it contributes to our understanding of human development is illustrated through commognitive analysis of mathematical discourse accompanied by vignettes from mathematics classrooms.

    • Divided into two independent parts: those interested mainly in theorising about human thinking may satisfy themselves with Part I, where references to mathematics are scarce; those who reach for this book because of their interest in mathematical thinking can head directly toward Part II
    • The glossary of the basic commognitive terms appended at the end of the book, and the summarising ('nutshell') section at the end of every chapter support various, non-linear ('random access') forms of reading
    • A combination of theoretical analyses and empirical studies; the reader is provided with the opportunity to learn and practise the distinctive commognitive methods of discourse analysis using many data samples
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Sfard has provided us with one of the most impressive, unified, homogenous theories of learning …' Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning

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    Product details

    • Date Published: April 2010
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521161541
    • length: 352 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 20 mm
    • weight: 0.52kg
    • contains: 21 b/w illus. 12 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Part I. Discourse on Thinking:
    1. Puzzling about (mathematical) thinking
    2. Objectification
    3. Commognition: thinking as communicating
    4. Thinking in language
    Part II. Mathematics as Discourse:
    5. Mathematics as a form of communication
    6. Objects of mathematical discourse: what mathematizing is all about
    7. Routines: how we mathematize
    8. Explorations, deeds, and rituals: what we mathematize for
    9. Looking back and ahead: solving old quandaries and facing new ones.

  • Author

    Anna Sfard, University of Haifa, Israel and Michigan State University
    Anna Sfard's research focuses on the development of mathematical discourses in individual lives and in the course of history. In a series of studies in Israel, Canada, and the United States, she has been investigating the development of mathematical thinking in both history and individual learning. Results of these studies, both theoretical and empirical, have been published in more than 100 articles and edited volumes, many of which have been widely cited. The recipient of the 2007 Freudhental Medal for research in mathematics education, she is a Professor of Mathematics Education at the University of Haifa, the first holder of the Lappan-Phillips-Fitzgerald endowed chair in Michigan State University, and a Visiting Professor at the Institute of Education in London.

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