Knowledge in structures or pieces?

A new paper in Educational Studies in Mathematics extends existing lines of dealing with the diversity of theories in mathematics education by exploring a yet underexplored issue: the benefits of capitalizing on conflicts, tensions, and paradoxes among accepted yet opposing theoretical perspectives for theory building. This paper distinguishes four modes for dealing with opposing theoretical perspectives:(1) taking contrasting theoretical perspectives as incommensurable; (2) holding opposites not as conflicting but as complementary; (3) dissolving or surpassing oppositions by blending perspectives; and (4) preserving paradoxes by recognizing the interdependence of constitutive oppositions. These four modes are exemplified by application to the long-standing debate of whether knowledge comes in pieces or structures.


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