In Democracy and Mathematics Education, Kurt Stemhagen and Catherine Henney develop a way of thinking about the nature and purposes of math that is inclusive, participatory, and thoroughly human. They use these ideas to create a school mathematics experience that can enhance students’ math abilities and democratic potential. They locate mathematics’ origins in human activity and highlight the rich but often overlooked links between mathematical activity and democratic, social practices. Democratic mathematics education foregrounds student inquiry and brings to light the moral dimensions of a discipline that has both remarkable utility and inevitable limitations. For math educators, the book’s humanities approach helps to see the subject anew. For philosophers, it provides an important real world context for wrestling with perennial and timely questions, engaging democratic and evolutionary theory to transform school math. This alternative approach to mathematics and mathematics education provides a guide for how to use math to make democracy a larger part of school and wider social life.


2021 Winner of the AESA Critics’ Choice Book Award.

Part I The Problem 1. Introduction: Rethinking Math for our Troubled Times 2. Mathematics Education in Historical and Contemporary Contexts Part II The Nature of Mathematics: Two Competing Perspectives 3. Absolutist Mathematics: The Infallibilist/Apriorist Thesis 4. Non-Absolutist Mathematics: The Constructivist Thesis Part III The Alternative: Democratic Mathematics Education 5. Evolutionary/Pragmatic Perspectives 6. Democratic Mathematics Education Part IV Enactment: Philosophy of Mathematics in and out of the Classroom 7. Philosophies of Mathematics: Consequences and Classroom Expressions 8. Mathematics Education Today: Making Sense of Critical and Democratic Approaches 9. Democracy, Mathematics, and Education Revisited