This paper suggests that the philosophical work of Bernard Lonergan comprises a
powerful resource particularly suited to underpin and inform the practice of action
learning in the context of a mathematical methodology for initial teacher
education. It is proposed that the cognitional theory of Bernard Lonergan provides
a framework that is uniquely suited to guiding this dynamic interplay, concerned
as it is with what Lonergan calls the ‘realms of meaning’ of theory, practice and
interiority (Lonergan 1972; D. Coghlan, 2010; D. Coghlan, 2016) and which can
be adopted for mathematics teacher education.
The three-fold Action Learning strategy presented reorients education away from
the transmission of pre-formulated concepts and towards the engagement of the
‘pure desire to know’ of each student as it draws the pre-service teacher through
the levels of cognitional process. Lonergan’s emphasis, like a teacher’s, is on the
act or event of insight in the learner’s mind.
Practical and higher order thinking and reflection, promoted by encouraging
problem solving skills, is best supported by valuing and elucidating reflexively the
process of inquisitive and creative enquiry (Mason, 1998). Mathematical problems
provoke spontaneous common-sense enquiry. With tutor guidance, enquiry moves
into the realm of theory, or scientific knowing, an approach which offers a
rationale to students for learning mathematical topics (Hiebert et al., 1996; Prusak,
Hershkowitz, & Schwarz, 2013) and lastly to reflection and critical knowing.
Lonergan’s approach focusses on the student’s framing fruitful questions rather
than always reaching right answers. The cognitional theory provides teachers, preservice
teachers and students with a guide to bring cognitional process into
conscious awareness (Carley, 2005; Colleran, 2002; Connolly, Murphy, & Moore,
2008) and can be adopted for the mathematics ITE programmes.