A Case for Combinatorics: A Research Commentary
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In this commentary, we make a case for the explicit inclusion of combinatorial topics in mathematics curricula, where it is currently essentially absent. We suggest ways in which researchers might inform the field’s understanding of combinatorics and its potential role in curricula. We reflect on five decades of research that has been conducted since a call by Kapur (1970) for a greater focus on combinatorics in mathematics education. Specifically, we discuss the following five assertions: 1) Combinatorics is accessible, 2) Combinatorics problems provide opportunities for rich mathematical thinking, 3) Combinatorics fosters desirable mathematical practices, 4) Combinatorics can contribute positively to issues of equity in mathematics education, and 5) Combinatorics is a natural domain in which to examine and develop computational thinking and activity. Ultimately, we make a case for the valuable and unique ways in which combinatorics might effectively be leveraged within K-16 curricula.