Giftedness and High Ability in Mathematics

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The mystery of mathematical giftedness has remained a subject of educational debate for many years. Initially, the analysis of the mathematical mind focused on the activities of prominent mathematicians. At the beginning of the twentieth century, Poincare (1908) – French mathematician, theoretical physicist, engineer, and philosopher of science – shared his introspective analysis on mathematicians’ thought in the keynote address before the French Psychological Society. He brought forward the importance of the analysis of mathematical thought and stressed that mathematical creation requires special abilities, including a feeling of mathematical order and mathematical intuition. Later, J Hadamard (1945/1954) – internationally known mathematician and awardee of the CNRS 1956 Gold medal, which is the highest scientific research award in France – examined “The Psychology of Invention in the Mathematical Field.” He investigated the creative practices of some of the greatest physicists and mathematicians of his generation and pointed out the unconscious component of mathematical discovery. Both Poincare and Hadamard considered mathematical invention to be a primary element of mathematical giftedness, and both addressed the special place of aesthetic feeling within the mathematical domain as a characteristic of people with outstanding mathematical performance. They pointed out that exploring the nature and structure of mathematical invention requires a combination of mathematical and psychological tools.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEncyclopedia of Mathematics Education
EditorsStephen Lerman
Place of PublicationCham
PublisherSpringer International Publishing AG
Number of pages11
ISBN (Print)978-3-030-15789-0
StatePublished - 2020


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