Shaping Mathematics into Stories by means of Propp’s Narratemes
G. Soto y Koelemeijer 1 * , F. J. J. M. Janssen 2, P. M. G. M. Kop 2
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1 Postdoc ICLON/ Secondary school math teacher, Stedelijk Gymnasium Leiden, 2316 ES Leiden, THE NETHERLANDS2 ICLON Graduate School of Teaching, Leiden University, P.O. Box 905, 2300 AX Leiden, THE NETHERLANDS* Corresponding Author

This article belongs to the special issue "Literature and the Arts in Mathematical Education".


For a few decades now, scholars have tried to make mathematics education more meaningful and motivating by using narratives. However, there still remains a gap between the theory of narratives and classroom practice. In this paper we provide two design heuristics for teachers by which to bridge this gap. We discuss Dietiker’s mathematical story framework, based on narratology, and present a design heuristic based on this framework by which to design mathematical stories. We extend this heuristic on the basis of the work of the Russian formalist Vladimir Propp, who analyzed Russian folktales. He found that 31 irreducible narrative elements, called functions or narratemes, can be distinguished. We exemplify our heuristics by means of two mathematical stories, one of which concerns Kepler’s conjecture. The value of this approach is that it provides mathematics teachers with a heuristic story framework that is suitable for designing or redesigning mathematical stories.


This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Article Type: Research Article

EURASIA J Math Sci Tech Ed, 2018, Volume 14, Issue 2, 657-669

Publication date: 19 Nov 2017

Article Views: 2298

Article Downloads: 2243

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