Nations and Numbers: Elementary Mathematics Education as a Nationalizing Tool
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One of the central elements of the nation-building process in the 19th century was the attempt to homogenize the citizenry, i.e., to fabricate national citizens. Besides the military and church, schools were considered to be the main agencies capable of achieving this national homogenization. In this paper, focusing on the education in Switzerland and France, I argue that elementary mathematics education was also used for this particular purpose. I make the case that throughout the 19th century mathematics education became a way to familiarize the people with a standardized language – a language that was supposed to help them master their specific social, cultural, and political realities.