Posted by: Alexandre Borovik | February 15, 2021

Some good answers are already given in this thread, I wish only to hint at the whole class of metaphors which can be used as a quick and cheap answer:

The difference between mathematics and mathematics education is the same as

  • between religion and religious education
  • between ***** and ***** education (you may wish to continue the list using this pattern)

Answering this question, it is very easy to switch into cynicism — one of the responses in this thread, from a former student, is already highly critical of mathematics education. I see myself as working professionally in mathematics education, and it is painful for me to see popular sayings as this one, from American popular culture:

Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach. Those who can’t teach, teach teachers.

— but I have to live with it. We have to accept that this is a popular attitude to our profession.


  1. In Russian, there is a special word, методист, literally “methodics developers”, whose main function was circulating new governmental instructions to practicing teachers on how they must change the way they teach. Not surprisingly, those people were detested by all good teaches, since in practice the only change was increasing the amount of reporting.

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