One is Not Born a Mathematician: In Conversation with Vasily Davydov

Osnat Fellus, Yaniv Biton


That mathematics education has been one of the central concerns of educational systems worldwide is no secret. It is also an established consensus that as far back as eighty years ago, Russian psychologists such as Vygotsky, Luria, Meshcheryakov, and Davydov have pioneered work that contributed to the understanding of teaching and learning and shifted the trajectory of schooling in the Western World. Looking back, we feel that there is more to this legacy that awaits to be further explained and extended to potentially address some of the pressing issues in mathematics education. To bring forth this legacy, the authors engage in an imaginary conversation with Vasily Davydov to tease out notions that include, inter alia, language and interaction, learning and teaching, and empirical and theoretical thinking. The utilisation of a conversation as a method of inquiry for the purpose of this paper was intentional as it not only encompasses the very method of teaching advocated by Davydov, thus conveying that the means is the message, but it is also conducive to the exploration of simultaneously surfacing ideas and phenomena. The questions asked, clarifications provided, and contradictions that still remain chart a map that displays theoretical vistas and empirical landscapes drawn and inspired by Davydov’s legacy. Specifically, Fellus and Biton bring forth citations from Davydov’s works that are used as signposts in the conversation that unfolds.

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