A categorization of the 'whys' and 'hows' of using history in mathematics education

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review


This is a theoretical article proposing a way of organizing and structuring the discussion of why and how to use the history of mathematics in the teaching and learning of mathematics, as well as the interrelations between the arguments for using history and the approaches to doing so. The way of going about this is to propose two sets of categories in which to place the arguments for using history (the "whys") and the different approaches to doing this (the "hows"). The arguments for using history are divided into two categories; history as a tool and history as a goal. The ways of using history are placed into three categories of approaches: the illumination, the modules, and the history-based approaches. This categorization, along with a discussion of the motivation for using history being one concerned with either the inner issues (in-issues) or the metaperspective issues (meta-issues) of mathematics, provides a means of ordering the discussion of "whys" and "hows."
Original languageEnglish
JournalEducational Studies in Mathematics
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)235-261
Number of pages27
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • Using history in mathematics education
  • Whys and hows
  • Indispensability of arguments
  • In-issues and meta-issues
  • Illumination, modules, and history-based approaches
  • Genetic principle

Cite this