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The role of mathematics in liberal arts education

Judith V. Grabiner

pp. 793-836

The history of the continuous inclusion of mathematics in liberal education in the West, from ancient times through the modern period, is sketched in the first two sections of this chapter. Next, the heart of this essay (Sects. 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7) delineates the central role mathematics has played throughout the history of Western civilization: not just a tool for science and technology, mathematics continually illuminates, interacts with, and sometimes challenges fields like art, music, literature, and philosophy – subjects now universally considered to be liberal arts. Section 8 adds an international perspective to the contemporary liberal arts story by describing some instructive mathematical achievements from many cultures and societies. Finally, Sect. 9 addresses how contemporary mathematics teaching can use the history of mathematics viewed as a liberal art to enhance the appreciation and understanding of mathematics for all students.

Publication details

DOI: 10.1007/978-94-007-7654-8_25

Full citation:

Grabiner, J. V. (2014)., The role of mathematics in liberal arts education, in M. R. Matthews (ed.), International handbook of research in history, philosophy and science teaching, Dordrecht, Springer, pp. 793-836.

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