R. L. Moore and Radical Constructivism

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




D. Reginald Traylor


Joe Eyles


Michael Risku


Jesse Purifoy


R. L. Moore was a mathematician who was prolific in both research and in producing productive mathematicians. He published over 60 papers and authored a definitive work on what he called analysis situs, later to be called point set topology. He produced 50 top caliber Ph.D. students. These students were themselves highly productive. Two of his Ph.D. students would become presidents of the American Mathematical Society. Four of his students would become presidents of the Mathematical Association of America. His Ph.D. students produced more Ph.D. students etc. so that Moore's descendents number well over 1000. Radical constuctivism is an explanatory principal for the process of knowing that has permeated mathematics education in the last decade. As Paul Ernst asserted, "In the past decade or two, the most important theoretical perspective to emerge in mathematics education has been that of constuctivism" (Glasersfeld, 1995, p. xi). Moore had an unusual teaching style. Though the term radical constructivism was coined the year R. L. Moore died, there seems to be a conjunction with his teaching methods and those proposed by radical constructivists, especially Ernst von Glasersfeld. A detailed comparison of Moore's ideas about knowledge and instruction with those of radical constructivism has not been made. This paper will contain that comparison.

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