Gesturing for oneself

Harun Zurina, Julian Williams

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Most research on gestures (especially in the field of Mathematics Education) has focused on gestures in communication with others. In contrast, here, we focus on gestures which are not directed at others, but which we assume accompany inner speech or embodied thought, such as the gesticulation one makes by touching one's fingers whilst silently counting; that is, whilst thinking, or communicating with oneself. Typically, these gestures are accompanied by eye gaze, which is detached from others who are present and turned either inwards or towards relevant artefacts present. Additionally, these gestures-whilst structurally similar-are much smaller than "normal" gestures used in interpersonal communication, suggesting an attenuation parallel to that found in inner speech. These physical gestures are in effect objectifications for oneself, which we can interpret as a not-quite-yet "underground" part of embodied thought. We suggest that they might be particularly vital for understanding the imagistic, visuospatial dimension of mathematics in general and fractions in particular. © 2011 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)175-188
Number of pages13
JournalEducational Studies in Mathematics
Issue number2-3
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2011


  • Embodied mathematics
  • Fractions
  • Gestures
  • Inner speech
  • Self gestures
  • Visuospatial


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