I write to extend my greetings to the membership of ICMI, and to say a few words of personal introduction. I am new not only to the presidency of ICMI, but even to much of the international education community that ICMI serves. My professional work has been principally as a research mathematician, in various areas of algebra, and, over the past decade, in mathematics education, but this mainly within the U.S.
The uses and needs for mathematical knowledge, leveraged by the power of modern technology, have greatly expanded in recent times. This has correspondingly enlarged the mission of mathematics education in the schools and universities, a condition that calls for new forms of curriculum and instructional practice, in countries throughout the world. In turn, this challenge to provide many more students with opportunities to learn mathematics at higher levels should be guided by disciplined educational research.
While national and cultural differences are striking, there are also remarkable and fundamental commonalties - about the nature of the subject matter, about the nature of learning, about the fundamental tasks of teaching - that instructional practice faces everywhere. So it is both natural and fruitful for education professionals, both practitioners and researchers, to form an international community, to share ideas and the experience that is gained from the educational experiments that the diverse national educational systems constitute. One of the principal functions of ICMI, as I see it, is to foster and support the work of this international community of educational scholarship.
Research and practice in mathematics education is inherently multi-disciplinary. I, like most of my mathematical colleagues, believe that deep subject matter knowledge is absolutely central to this work, though, unlike some of my colleagues, I recognize that this is but one part of a larger and more complex picture. Thus, I see essential roles for the involvement of research level mathematicians in the work of mathematics education, at all levels, but that their participation be exercised as one among several collaborating sources of professional expertise. For this reason I am pleased with the synergy between mathematics and mathematics education that the organizational connection between ICMI and IMU affords. At the same time, this connection should be sensitively tuned to the evolving nature and purposes of the professional communities represented by the two organizations.
The work of ICMI - organization of the ICME’s, the ICMI Studies, support of regional meetings and affiliated Study Groups, development of the Solidarity Fund, etc. - is expanding in response to the value and need felt by the community that it serves. It does this work with an extraordinarily modest material base of resources. For this we can credit the level of volunteer work done by ICMI members and organizers, often drawing on outside sources of support, and also, especially, to the outstanding leadership that ICMI has recently enjoyed. Miguel de Guzmán, and Jean-Pierre Kahane before him, provided wise and dedicated direction. The major day-to-day executive responsibility for ICMI rests with its Secretary. In this regard, ICMI has, for the past decade, been blessed with the efficiency, devotion, good humor, sensitivity, insight and wise judgement of Mogens Niss, whose counsel we continue to regularly solicit. And now ICMI is once again fortunate to have, in Bernard Hodgson, the services of someone who brings all of these same qualities to this work. It has, already in this short time, been a real pleasure for me to collaborate with both of them. I look forward to this continuing work, and to the opportunity to meet more of you, particularly at the ICME-9 in Japan next summer.
Hyman Bass, President