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Adding + It Up: Helping Children Learn Mathematics
Mathematical knowledge includes knowledge of mathematical facts, concepts, procedures, and the relationships among them; knowledge of the ways that mathematical ideas can be represented; and knowledge of mathematics as a discipline—in particular, how mathematical knowledge is produced, the nature of discourse in mathematics, and the norms and standards of evidence that guide argument and proof. In our use of the term, knowledge of mathematics includes consideration of the goals of mathematics instruction and provides a basis for discriminating and prioritizing those goals. Knowing mathematics for teaching also entails more than knowing mathematics for oneself. Teachers certainly need to be able to understand concepts correctly and perform procedures accurately, but they also must be able to understand the conceptual foundations of that knowledge. In the course of their work as teachers, they must understand mathematics in ways that allow them to explain and unpack ideas in ways not needed in ordinary adult life. The mathematical sensibilities they hold matter in guiding their decisions and interpretations of students’ mathematical efforts.
Knowledge of students and how they learn mathematics includes general knowledge of how various mathematical ideas develop in children over time as well as specific knowledge of how to determine where in a developmental trajectory a child might be. It includes familiarity with the common difficul-