Mr. Frog challenged by Fermat's last theorem

Maria Kirstine Østergaard, Anna Karlskov Skyggebjerg, Uffe Thomas Jankvist

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Is it possible to communicate abstract mathematical thinking to children? This is what the Danish picture books ‘Fermat’s last theorem’ and ‘Twin primes’ attempt to do. This paper discusses their educational potential from both a literary and a didactical perspective, basing the latter on the Danish framework for mathematical competencies and its characterization of mathematical overview and judgment. On the one hand, the books serve an aesthetic purpose by combining conventional elements of a picture book, with colourful illustrations and the narrative structure of a fairy tale, and unconventional mathematical content. On the other hand, they contravene traditional norms for children’s books by introducing complex problems with no solution. This unexpected turn invites the reader to engage in mathematical and philosophical thinking, abstract reflection and dialogue, which may contribute to the development of the critical child. Without even mentioning Fermat’s last theorem, the first book’s application of mathematical formulations, considerations and methods to a non-mathematical problem, as well as the implicit example (Fermat) of the historical development of mathematics, presents the nature and characteristics of mathematics as a discipline. The second book, ‘Twin primes’, is more traditional in the context of subject-oriented children’s books as it is explicitly stated that the narrative is used to communicate a mathematical topic. Both of the books have the potential to develop children’s mathematical overview and judgment. However, if the invitation to engage in abstract thinking is to be accepted and exercised, the rather complex content needs to be mediated by a qualified adult.
TitelMACAS in the Digital Era: Proceedings of the 2019 MACAS Symposium
RedaktørerAnnie Savard, Rebecca Pearce
Antal sider10
ForlagMcgill Faculty of Education, Montreal
ISBN (Trykt)9781772470222
StatusUdgivet - 2020
BegivenhedMathematics and its Connection to the Arts and Sciences - McGill University, Montreal, Canada
Varighed: 18 jun. 201921 jun. 2019
Konferencens nummer: 2019


KonferenceMathematics and its Connection to the Arts and Sciences
LokationMcGill University