Ritualisation in early number work

Alf Coles*, Nathalie Sinclair

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
282 Downloads (Pure)


In this paper, we propose a way of thinking about ritual that is new to mathematics education research and that challenges the more common approaches to ritual that dichotomise thinking and acting. We argue for a material, monist conceptualisation of ritual, which we refer to as ritualisation. In the context of early number work, we show that ritualisation can be seen as meaningful—and not simply as rote repetition lacking mathematical sophistication—particularly in relation to a symbolically structured environment. We argue that ritualisation practices can allow entry into new fields of activity and discourse, without going through a phase of merely un-thinking performance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)177–194
Number of pages18
JournalEducational Studies in Mathematics
Early online date5 May 2018
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jun 2019

Structured keywords

  • SoE Centre for Teaching Learning and Curriculum


  • Early number
  • Number naming
  • Ritual
  • Ritualisation
  • Symbolically structured environment


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