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This discussion centers around the term context. In the educational literature a context is usually any place or situation outside the classroom. The debate focuses on whether learning in the classroom can be successfully applied to some real-life context.
The key researcher in this debate is Jean Lave who looked closely at mathematical skills learned in different contexts. Her research, notably with Liberian tailors, young Brazilian merchants, dieters following recipes, and shoppers trying to determine the best value, revealed that each of these groups found ways of solving mathematical problems without using the general math techniques taught in school. Lave published her findings in her 1988 book Cognition in Practice: Mind, Mathematics and Culture in Everyday Life. (more…)