Since its founding in 1971, the Freudenthal Institute has developed a domain-specific instruction theory on the learning and teaching of mathematics, known as Realistic Mathematics Education (RME). RME incorporates views on what mathematics is, how students learn mathematics, and how mathematics should be taught. It is the result of many years of design research, and is a ‘living’ theory, which is being continually adapted as new insights are gained.

RME

Realistic Mathematics Education

The principles that underlie the RME approach have been strongly influenced by Hans Freudenthal’s idea of mathematics as a human activity. Freudenthal felt that students should not be considered as passive recipients of ready-made mathematics, but rather that education should guide the students towards using opportunities to reinvent mathematics by putting it into practice themselves. RME requires a high intellectual autonomy of the students. To put it a different way, one of the key principles of the RME approach is that students should actively participate in the learning process. In a stimulating learning environment they should have the opportunity to build up their own knowledge and understanding.

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This paper addresses mathematics education in the Netherlands and provides a guided tour through the main aspects of the Dutch approach to mathematics education. The title of the paper also refers to the guidance aspects of mathematics education, the role of the teacher and of the curriculum. The tour will focus on the number strand in primary school mathematics.

(c) Freudenthal Institute US & Freudenthal Institute for Science and Mathematics Education 2013

FIUS: mathematics education, development and research