Constructivism has become a major focus of recent pedagogical reform in mathematics education. However, epistemological reform that is based on the constructivist referent of learning as conceptual change has a very limited viability in traditional mathematics classrooms because of its cultural insensitivity. By contrast, the social epistemology of critical constructivism addresses the socio-cultural contexts of knowledge construction and serves as a powerful referent for cultural reform. From this perspective, the social reality of traditional mathematics classrooms is governed by powerful cultural myths that restrain the discursive practices of teachers and students. The power of the repressive myths of coM reason and hard control is evident in the ways in which they act in concert to create a highly coherent and seemingly natural social reality. Epistemological reform of traditional mathematics classroom learning environments is, therefore, synonomous with cultural reconstruction. Critical constructivism, which has a central concern with discourse ethics and the moral agency of the teacher, draws on the social philosophy of Jurgen Habermas and argues for an alternative culture of communicative action to be established in mathematics classrooms. Teachers are expected to work collaboratively as agents of cultural change in forums beyond their classrooms.
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