HOME PAGE History of mathematics' didactic What is the mental representation? Matematical mental representation Recording interview: René Thom, Dominique, Rosine... Write to me Author
 Introjection Another group of statements reflects the notion that mathematics helps to set up a certain stability in the personality. The search for connections, the disciplining of the mind, the acquisition of sound reasoning help to establish a balanced character and a strong personality.

 Q 14: Doing maths is a way of training my mind.  Q 15: It is trying to find connections between different things.  Q 17: Mathematics is a way of getting a strong character.  Q21: Working with mathematics allows you to acquire a well-balanced personality.  Q22: Mathematics allows you to develop good reasoning. QUESTIONNAIRE

 Mathematics is a language which always strives to clarify, to distinguish and to classify, its concepts. It rejects all equivocation and all ambiguity, for it will not tolerate them. In English or French and so on, a word refers more or less to some reality; in mathematics this is not possible. Moreover, in this language, information is rarely redundant; each sign acquires a sort of absolute necessity governed by rules which admit no exception. The rules have a compulsory nature, much more superior to those that govern spelling, for example. Failure to respect the latter rules does not always interfere with the meaning and so the words. Failure to respect the rules of mathematics hinders any use of the subject. It seemed to me that certain students introject this aspect of the mathematical object, taking it in and making use of it as a way of structuring their personality. They then have the impression that mathematics gives them some order, that is to say it lets them struggle against the instincts they consider bad

 FOR EXAMPLE Here is part of an interview with a 16-year-old girl from the scientific stream:     <<-With maths, 1 think that when one has to solve something, you should do it progressively without jumping _jumping in that way from one question to another when they are totally different, you know ... And then, to see how far you can go, although 1 don't know myself! And it's precisely that, I am searching for a way of life ... a stability ...It is perhaps because 1 am looking for something that will make me stable, because 1 know very well that in myself, 1 am not.>> Mathematics offers the possibility of gaining internal stability or a way of testing it out. In other words, it serves to set limits, but also sometimes to reinforce the ego.   <<-One day I'll be in a good mood, the next day I'll feel quite the opposite. I know very well I'm unstable. Well, perhaps I'm looking for something else; I think I've found it in maths, but that now it's much more difficult for me.   -What do you mean when you say you are not stable? I-t's ... 1 don't know ... the mind and the thoughts ... in short, one day 1 will have quite bright, cheerful ideas and everything ... the next day I've black thoughts. And it's just that there's a contrast which comes about inside me. It's that, generally, when it's fine when the sun's shining, it's then that I'm most black. With my previous maths, I'd found a bit of stability, much more so than I find now.>>   The mathematics she is now doing no longer enables this student to go on struggling. Instability has set in; black thoughts reappear in reaction to the weather. What are these black thoughts which mathematics is expected to keep in check?   <<-What are these things you call black thoughts? -I don't know ... I don't know. Well, how strange life is! In short, it's not always pleasant ... there are things like that. 1 try to throw myself in to my work by trying to work, to forget all these black ideas. It's often difficult, they always return ... afterwards, just the same... Well, 1 think that it affects your health. It's not easy either, everyday, In short, 1 think that everything is held in. I don't know exactly what, well I'm ill.. . I've a little brother and I've great difficulty in getting on with him because he's always full of ... he's always on the go. And then he really takes life a it comes ... also I can't get on with him ... I'm as withdrawn as he's outgoing!>>   Over-investment of energy in mathematics was functioning to keep the mind busy so that she does not think about the aggressive and guilt-making ideas and that she knows rationally 'how far you can go' in behaviour to a brother.

 HOME PAGE History of mathematics' didactic What is the mental representation? Matematical mental representation Recording interview: René Thom, Dominique, Rosine... Write to me Author