University of Cambridge > > Pedagogy, Language, Arts & Culture in Education (PLACE) Group Seminars > Maths, Arts and Games for Digital Natives: Paradox Structures, Impossible Forms and Visual Illusions in Experience-Centered Mathematics Education

Maths, Arts and Games for Digital Natives: Paradox Structures, Impossible Forms and Visual Illusions in Experience-Centered Mathematics Education

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Pamela Burnard.

As attitude-researches point out, students tend to sustain an aversion to mathematics, while remaining largely ignorant of how deeply embedded it is in the world around them.

Most students however are able to recognize patterns and numerous research and empirical evidence indicates that they become easily motivated (and even fascinated) when mathematical connections are presented in ways which relate to their experiences by triggering their natural curiosities. PISA and TIMSS results and recommendations are that students should find education enjoyable, develop self-belief and stamina to address challenging problems and situations.

Experience-centered education of mathematics through arts and playful activities might be an effective way to grasp the complex relationship between mathematics attitudes and joy of learning and support the students in their study achievements.

Creating visual illusions, paradox structures and ‘impossible’ forms through playful and artistic procedures, holds an exciting pedagogical opportunity for raising students’ interest towards mathematics and natural sciences and technical aspects of visual arts.

The Experience Workshop Math-Art Movement has a number of pedagogical methods, which are connected to visual paradoxes and perspective illusions. There are certain digital games as well, which employ visual illusions as a part of their game mechanic. Most of these games were not designed as an educational game, but they may be used for educational purposes, to clarify mathematical concepts behind and related to visual illusions (symmetry, perspective, isometric projection etc.)


Kristóf Fenyvesi is a researcher of contemporary culture at University of Jyväskylä’s Department of Art and Culture Studies; director of community events at the world largest art and mathematics community, the Bridges Organization (; chief executive officer of International Symmetry Association ( and director of Experience Workshop – International Math-Art Movement for Experience-centered Education of Mathematics ( His main areas of research are mathematical connections in arts, culture and education; interdisciplinary aesthetics and philosophy.

From 2007, he has been organizing scientific and education events and exhibitions in the interdisciplinary field of mathematical connections in visual arts, design and culture and publishing related research articles and editing books. His articles have appeared on fora such as The Notices of the American Mathematical Society, MAA Focus – Newsmagazine of the Mathematical Association of America and the Bridges Conference Proceedings. His book, Experience-centered approach and visuality in the education of mathematics and physics (Fenyvesi et al., 2012), was reviewed by the prestigious international Journal of Mathematics and the Arts (2013, Vol. 7, No. 2, 87–88). The volume of collected articles, Aesthetics of Interdisciplinarity: The Mathematical Connections (eds. Fenyvesi & Lähdesmäki) is accepted for publication by the Springer Birkhäuser and will appear in 2015.

This talk is part of the Pedagogy, Language, Arts & Culture in Education (PLACE) Group Seminars series.

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