Understanding that mathematics is founded on reasoning and is not just a collection of rules to apply is an important message to convey to students. Here we examined the reasoning presented in seven topics in nine Australian eighth-grade textbooks. Focusing on explanatory text that introduced new mathematical rules or relationships, we classified explanations according to the mode of reasoning used. Seven modes were identified, making a classification scheme which both refined and extended previous schemes. Most textbooks provided explanations for most topics rather than presenting “rules without reasons” but the main purpose appeared to be rule derivation or justification in preparation for practise exercises, rather than using explanations as thinking tools. Textbooks generally did not distinguish between the legitimacies of deductive and other modes of reasoning.
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