Posted by: **Alexandre Borovik** | July 8, 2014

## Calling a spade a spade

Calling a spade a spade: Mathematics in the new pattern of division of labour

**Abstract**

The growing disconnection of the majority of population from mathematics is

becoming a phenomenon that is increasingly difficult to ignore. This paper

attempts to point to deeper roots of this cultural and social phenomenon. It

concentrates on mathematics education, as the most important and better

documented area of interaction of mathematics with the rest of human culture.

I argue that new patterns of division of labour have dramatically changed the

nature and role of mathematical skills needed for the labour force and

correspondingly changed the place of mathematics in popular culture and in the

mainstream education. The forces that drive these changes come from the tension

between the ever deepening specialisation of labour and ever increasing length

of specialised training required for jobs at the increasingly sharp cutting

edge of technology.

Unfortunately these deeper socio-economic origins of the current systemic

crisis of mathematics education are not clearly spelt out, neither in cultural

studies nor, even more worryingly, in the education policy discourse; at the

best, they are only euphemistically hinted at.

This paper is an attempt to describe the socio-economic landscape of

mathematics education without resorting to euphemisms.

Also uploaded to Academia.edu and arXiv.

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