The International Commission on Mathematical Instruction
Bulletin No. 48
ICMI Activities in 1996-2000
A new Executive Committee of ICMI was elected at the General Assembly of the International Mathematical Union held in Dresden (Germany) in August 1998 and has taken charge as of January 1, 1999. This resulted in the change of all the officers and most of the members of the Executive Committee, except for Member Gilah Leder, past President Miguel de Guzmán (new Ex-officio Member) and Ex-officio Member Jacob Palis (past Secretary and now President of IMU). Professor Phillip Griffiths (USA) became an Ex-officio Member of the EC as the new Secretary of IMU. Professors Yukihiko Namikawa (Japan), Igor Sharygin (Russia) and Jian-Pan Wang (China) were elected new members in succession to Professors Colette Laborde (France), Carlos Vasco (Colombia) and Zhang Dianzhou (China). Professor Hyman Bass (USA) was elected new President in succession to Miguel de Guzmán; Professors Néstor Aguilera (Argentina) and Michèle Artigue (France) succeeded Jeremy Kilpatrick (USA) and Anna Sierpinska (Canada) in the positions of Vice-Presidents, and Professor Bernard R. Hodgson (Canada) was elected Secretary in succession to Mogens Niss (Denmark). Consequently the Secretariat of ICMI moved from the University of Roskilde to Université Laval. The new Executive Committee expressed its sincere thanks and deep gratitude to the outgoing officers and members of the ICMI EC for their enthusiastic and excellent service to ICMI and to the mathematics education community at large.
In order to prepare and facilitate the transition process, the outgoing EC has produced a document containing information, advice, and recommendations to the incoming EC. Also, the outgoing Secretary and the incoming Secretary met and worked in Copenhagen for three days in October 1998 to prepare the take-over of the EC responsibility, and the past and new Presidents and Secretaries had a three-day working meeting in New York in February 1999 to finish the transition. An unofficial and informal meeting of members of the outgoing and the incoming ECs was held in conjunction with the ICMI Study Conference in Singapore in December 1998.
Since the last General Assembly of ICMI, held at ICME-8 in Sevilla in July 1996, the previous Executive Committee met on July 13, 14 and 19, 1996 (Sevilla, Spain), on August 31 and September 1, 1997 (Madrid, Spain), on April 21, 1998 (Luminy, France), and had its final meeting on November 6-9, 1998 (Saint-Séverin/Saint-Marcellin, France). The new Executive Committee had its first meeting at the IREM of Université de Paris 7 (France) on July 18-21, 1999. This meeting was in particular the occasion of a thorough study and discussion of the "testament" document prepared by the outgoing EC for the incoming EC. Besides this meeting, the work of the EC was conducted by correspondence and electronic communication under the direction of the President and the Secretary.
A farewell statement by the outgoing President and Secretary of ICMI was published in the December 1998 issue (No. 45) of the ICMI Bulletin.
As of January 1997, Latvia and Uruguay have been accepted as new members of the International Mathematical Union, and hence of ICMI as well. Also applications from a number of countries to be co-opted as non-IMU members states of ICMI in accordance with the terms of reference of ICMI has been received by the EC. Since 1996, the following countries were co-opted non-IMU members of ICMI, with the endorsement of the International Mathematical Union: Thailand (1996) - the Adhering Organization is the Mathematical Association of Thailand under the Patronage of His Majesty the King; Indonesia (1997) - the Adhering Organization is the Indonesian Mathematical Society; Brunei Darussalam (1998).
It continues to be part of ICMI's general policy to encourage member states to establish National Sub-Commissions of ICMI. In recent years the following countries have formed a National Sub-Commission: Korea (1996), Sweden (1998) and Spain (1999). More countries are expected to establish National Sub-Commission in the years to come.
A number of countries have no appointed ICMI National Representatives at the moment. These are Armenia, Brunei Darussalam, Georgia, Greece, Kazakhstan, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Lithuania, Mexico, Pakistan, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Slovenia, Turkey, Ukraine, Uruguay and Venezuela. More generally, the need is felt to reinvigorate the contribution of National Representatives. In some cases, no news have been received for a number of years from the Representatives, so that it is unknown if the person is still active. There are instances where the rule adopted by the General Assembly of IMU in Kobe (Japan, 1990) as Resolution 5, according to which National Representatives should normally not be asked to serve for more than two consecutive four-year terms, is not respected. A call for electronic addresses of National Representatives provoked a very slow reaction. As of the end of 1999, only 30 Representatives had sent their address to the Secretary.
The transfer of ICMI assets from the outgoing to the incoming Secretary was accomplished in two stages. The major portion of the funds was transferred in January 1999, some money being kept in Copenhagen for final expenses. Early March of that year, all the ICMI funds had been transferred to Québec. Two accounts have been opened for ICMI, one in Canadian dollars and the other in US dollars. These accounts are located at the Caisse populaire de l'Université Laval, Cité universitaire, Québec (accounts Nos. 68 033 and 800 394).
ICMI accounts for 1999 appear in a separate section of this Bulletin. The accounts are approved by the Executive Committee of the International Mathematical Union.
The latest of the quadrennial International Congress on Mathematical Education, ICME-8, was held at Universidad de Sevilla, Reina Mercedes campus, 14-21 July 1996. The congress had an attendance of close to 3500 delegates from 98 different countries. The program was very rich and intensive. The Proceedings of the Congress were published in 1998. A novel feature in the ICME series was instigated at ICME-8. A 10% "Solidarity Tax" was imposed on all registration fees in order to provide (partial) financial support of the attendance of about 250 delegates from about 55 different non-affluent countries. The amount thus generated was distributed by a specially appointed Grants Committee which worked incognito in order to minimize potential problems of pressure.
The next International Congress on Mathematical Education, ICME-9, will be held in Tokyo/Makuhari, Japan, from July 31 to August 7, 2000. The International Program Committee was appointed in 1996 and is chaired by Professor Hiroshi Fujita, Tokai University, Tokyo, Japan. (A revised composition of the IPC appears in the ICMI Bulletin No. 46, June 1999, p. 31.) The IPC met twice, the first time in Makuhari in Mach 1998 and the second time in Tokyo in June 1999. The main part of the work of the Committee has been carried out electronically under the direction of Professor Fujita. Keeping on with the initiative established at ICME-8, the Japanese National Organizing Committee (NOC) for ICME-9 has proposed a program of financial support for participants from non-affluent countries. The money available for this program comes from a solidarity Tax taken on all registrations, from private sponsorship raised within Japan as well as from a grant of CHF 20 000 provided for ICME-9 by IMU.
As reported earlier (see the minutes of the 1996 General Assembly, ICMI Bulletin No. 41, December 1996, p. 6, or the report on ICMI activities in 1997, ICMI Bulletin No. 44, June 1998, p. 3), Brazil had indicated to ICMI at some point that it was working to submit a bid to host ICME-10. However at the end of 1998 ICMI was informed that this bid would not materialize. In January 1999, the Secretary thus wrote to all the National Representatives calling for bids for ICME-10. In spite of contacts with various countries during the first months of 1999, no official bid had been received when the EC held its annual meeting in July 1999. It was then decided to launch a new series of contacts, which led to the presentation early November 1999 of a bid to have ICME-10 take place in Copenhagen in July 2004. This invitation, which was made on behalf of the Nordic countries Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland, was officially accepted by the EC in December 1999.
4. ICMI Studies
The mounting and conducting of so-called ICMI Studies on crucial themes and issues in mathematics education were continued in the years 1996-2000. The ICMI Studies are published by Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, the Netherlands, under the general editorship of the President and the Secretary of ICMI. A synthesis paper giving basic information about the Studies since their beginning in the 1980s was prepared by the Secretary for the June 1999 issue of the ICMI Bulletin (No. 46, pp. 32-36).
After the publication of five volumes in the "New ICMI Studies Series" (NISS) during the period 1993-1998, it was felt appropriate to reexamine the content of the contract signed between Kluwer and ICMI. This was particularly timely as two new series editors were taking charge and the publication of two new ICMI Study Volumes was under preparation. The negotiation with Kluwer expanded over several months and led to a new agreement (formally approved by the EC of ICMI early in 2000). New clauses in particular were adopted concerning the number of free copies made available to ICMI and to contributors to a volume, as well as the conditions under which individuals can order a copy of the volumes for their personal use.
During the period 1996-2000, two new volumes have appeared in the New ICMI Studies Series:
ICMI Study 8: What is Research in Mathematics Education and What are its Results?
The Study Conference was held in College Park, USA, May 1994, and the Study Volume (two books) appeared in 1998 under the title: Mathematics Education as a Research Domain: A Search for Identity, eds: Anna Sierpinska and Jeremy Kilpatrick. (NISS 4)
ICMI Study 9: Perspectives on the Teaching of Geometry for the 21st Century.
The Study Conference was held in Catania, Italy, September 1995, and the Study Volume published in 1998 under the same title; eds: Carmelo Mammana and Vinicio Villani. (NISS 5)
Two Study conferences have taken place since 1996:
ICMI Study 10: The Study Conference on The Role of the History of Mathematics in the Teaching and Learning of Mathematics was held in Luminy, France, in April 1998. It was attended by 67 participants from 28 different countries. The work on the Study Volume was completed during 1999, under the editorship of John Fauvel, the Open University, UK, and Jan van Maanen, the University of Groningen, the Netherlands, co-chairs of the International Program Committee for this Study, and the book is due to appear in June 2000 under the title History in Mathematics Education: An ICMI Study (NISS 6). A report on this Study (including a picture of participants) has appeared in the ICMI Bulletin No. 47, December 1999, pp. 16-19.
ICMI Study 11: The Study Conference on the Teaching and Learning of Mathematics at University Level took place in Singapore in December 1998. It was attended by 89 participants from 25 different countries. This Study will result in two publications, as indicated in the report which has appeared in the ICMI Bulletin No. 47, December 1999, pp. 20-22. The first of these publications is a special issue of the International Journal of Mathematical education in Science and Technology (iJMEST), Vol. 31 (1) January-February 2000, entirely devoted to selected papers from the Study Conference. Work on the Study Volume to appear in the NISS Series is also under way and it is expected that this book will be published in 2001.
Reports in these two studies will be presented during special ICMI Studies sessions at ICME-9, in Makuhari, August 2000.
Two new ICMI Studies are now under way.
- ICMI Study 12: The next study in the series, The Future of the Teaching and Learning of Algebra, was initiated in 1998 by the appointment of an International Program Committee chaired by Professor Kaye Stacey, University of Melbourne, Australia (the composition of the IPC was given in the ICMI Bulletin No. 46, June 1999, p. 35 - Rosamund Sutherland has since been appointed on the IPC, following the resignation of Kenneth Ruthven). The IPC has done work through e-mail during 1999, in preparation for its first meeting in January 2000. The Discussion Document for this Study appears in the ICMI Bulletin No. 48, June 2000, and elsewhere. The Study Conference will take place at the University of Melbourne, Australia, in December 2001.
- ICMI Study 13: The next Study has as a tentative title Mathematics Education in Different Traditions: A Comparative Study in Asian and Western Countries. The two co-chairs for this Study are Klaus-Dieter Graf, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany, and Frederick K.S. Leung, the University of Hong Kong, and the IPC was appointed early in 2000. The corresponding Study Conference is planned to take place in Hong Kong in 2002.
Plans for further studies, on average one per year without an ICME congress, are under development. A decision about the topic of ICMI Study 14 should be made by the EC during 2000.
5. Regional Conferences
Since 1996, the following regional conferences were sponsored (financially, morally or both) by ICMI. In 1996, 3-7 June, SEACME-7 (The 7th South East Asian Conference on Mathematical Education) was held in Hanoi (Vietnam) with 135 participants from 17 countries. A brief report of the conference was published in the ICMI Bulletin No. 41, December 1996, pp. 18-19. The First ICMI East Asia Regional Conference on Mathematics Education (ICMI-EARCOME 1), was held in Chungbuk, The Republic of Korea, 17-21 August 1998. A brief report has appeared in the ICMI Bulletin No. 41, December 1996, pp. 17-18. The 8th South East Asian Conference on Mathematics Education (SEACME-8) was held from 30 May to 4 June 1999, at the Ateneo de Manila University, Quezon City, Philippines, with the theme "Mathematics for the 21st Century". A report on SEACME-8 has appeared in the ICMI Bulletin No. 47, December 1999, pp. 64-66.
Three meetings have been recognized by the EC as ICMI regional conferences and are now under preparation: the symposium EM 2000 (Espace Mathématique 2000) to be held in Grenoble (France) from July 15 to 17, 2000, on the theme "L'enseignement des mathématiques dans les pays francophones au XXe siècle et ses perspectives pour le début du XXIe siècle"; the All-Russian Conference on Mathematical Education is "Mathematics and Society. Mathematical Education in the New Millennium" to be held in the city of Dubna (near Moscow), Russia, from September 19 to September 22, 2000; and the second ICMI-EARCOME (East Asia Regional Conference on Mathematics Education) - also designated as the Ninth Southeast Asian Conference on Mathematics Education or SEACME 9 - to be held in Singapore in June 2002.
6. Other initiatives
The international journal L'Enseignement Mathématique, the official organ of ICMI since the inception of the Commission in 1908, was established in 1899 by Henri Fehr and Charles Laisant. On the occasion of the centennial of the journal, it was felt appropriate to hold a symposium with the aims of looking at the evolution of mathematics education over the last century and identifying some guidelines and trends for the future, taking into account, among other sources, the documents, debates and related papers having appeared in L'Enseignement Mathématique. This symposium, organized jointly by ICMI and the University of Geneva as a contribution to the celebration of the World Mathematical Year 2000, will take place in Geneva, the home of the journal since its birth, from October 20 to 22, 2000. The theme of the meeting is One Hundred Years of L'Enseignement Mathématique : Moments of Mathematics Education in the 20th Century. The Program Committee for this symposium is composed of Daniel Coray, Fulvia Furinghetti, Hélène Gispert, Bernard R. Hodgson and Gert Schubring.
In the 1992-1996 report to the General Assembly of ICMI (see ICMI Bulletin No. 40, June 1996, p. 7-8), mention is made that further to a proposal by Nicolas Balacheff (Grenoble, France) at the ICMI Study Conference in College Park, Maryland (USA), May 1994, the EC had decided to appoint an international Ad Hoc Committee on the Identity of the Professional Community of Mathematics Education Researchers chaired by Nicolas Balacheff. However it has turned out that this Ad Hoc Committee has not, for a variety of reasons, been able to carry out the task that was expected at its instigation.
7. ICMI-related activities at the ICM-98
For the first time in many years, there were no specific ICMI lectures, symposium or suchlike at the 1998 International Congress of Mathematician. At ICM-98, in Berlin, Germany, the ICMI-related activities were integrated into the program of Section 18: Teaching and Popularization of Mathematics. In the final program, outgoing and incoming ICMI officers (Miguel de Guzmán, Mogens Niss, Bernard Hodgson, and Michèle Artigue) were involved as invited speakers in lectures or panels. The papers given are published in the Proceedings of the congress.
8. Affiliated Study Groups
ICMI continues to have four affiliated study groups, HPM (The International Study Group on the Relations Between the History and Pedagogy of Mathematics), IOWME (The International Organization of Women and Mathematics Education), PME (The International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education), and WFNMC (The World Federation of National Mathematics Competitions). Formal information about these groups (constitution, rules, etc.) has appeared in the ICMI Bulletin No. 47, December 1999, pp. 37-52. Separate reports from the affiliated study groups for the years 1996-2000 are included in the current issue of the ICMI Bulletin.
9. The Solidarity Program
In 1992 ICMI established a Solidarity Program in Mathematics Education. The overall objective of the Solidarity Program is to increase, in a variety of ways, the commitment and involvement of mathematics educators around the world in order to improve the situation of mathematics education, in particular in those parts of the world where the economic and socio-political contexts do not permit adequate and autonomous development. This initiative thus aims at providing means which, together with institutional or other help obtained from various sources, may support concrete initiatives and activities so to foster solidarity in mathematics education between well-defined quarters in developed and less developed countries. Particular emphasis is placed on projects which enable the activation of a self-sustainable infra-structure within mathematics education in the region, country, or province at issue.
The first stage in this program of international assistance was the mounting of a Solidarity Fund based on contributions by individuals, organizations, etc. The Solidarity Fund has received over the years donations from various organizations and individuals in mathematics education for which it is most grateful. Thus, in 1997 the Fund received a donation of 5000 FRF from the French Sub-Commission of ICMI, CFEM; and in 1998 the Korean Sub-Commission of ICMI, in continuation of the successful completion of the First ICMI East Asian Conference on Mathematics Education, ICMI-EARCOME-1, made a donation of 1000 USD. Being based on voluntary donations, the Solidarity Fund is kept separate from ICMI's funds.
The steering committee for the Solidarity Fund (chaired by Professor Jean-Pierre Kahane, Orsay, France) has decided in 1998, on the recommendation of the EC, to give a grant of 18 000 USD to support two collaborative projects on the education and professional development of mathematics teachers in Burkina Faso and Cameroun. Half of this amount has been given in 1999. The project is supervised by the French Sub-Commission of ICMI in cooperation with the French association for mathematics teachers.
An ad hoc committee, chaired by Colette Laborde (Université Joseph Fourier, Grenoble, France) has been set up in 1999 by the EC of ICMI to review the functioning and the impact of the Solidarity Fund, after its eight years of existence, and to bring recommendations to the EC concerning its orientation and development.
10. ICMI WMY 2000 Comittee
In order to prepare ICMI's involvement in the World Mathematical Year 2000, an ad hoc Committee has been formed, under the chairmanship of past ICMI President, Professor Miguel de Guzmán. The composition of this Committee is given in the ICMI Bulletin No. 42, June 1997, pp. 18-19. While various projects were envisaged by the Committee, it was finally decided to concentrate mainly on the ICME-9 congress, a very extensive activity if not specific to the year 2000. In particular the International Round Table to take place on the opening day of ICME-9 can be seen as a special contribution in the context of the WMY 2000. Moreover ICMI is sponsoring, together with the University of Geneva, the symposium organized on the occasion of the centennial of L'Enseignement Mathématique which will take place in Geneva in October 2000 (see item 6 above).
11. ICMI Bulletins
In the years 1996-1999, eight issues of the ICMI Bulletin have been published, two each year (June and December). Issues Nos. 40-45 have been published under the editorship of past ICMI Secretary Mogens Niss, and issues Nos. 46-47 under the editorship of the new ICMI Secretary Bernard R. Hodgson. The ICMI Bulletin is available in the following electronic forms: in ASCII-format on direct request to the editor; on the World Wide Web, where it can be found under the following coordinates on the IMU-server:
In order to facilitate retrieval of information contained in past issues of the ICMI Bulletin, the Secretary has published the tables of contents of all issues having appeared between 1972 and 1998. See ICMI Bulletin No. 47, December 1999, pp. 79-91 for issues Nos. 1-29 (1972-1990), and ICMI Bulletin No. 46, June 1999, pp. 42-49 for issues Nos. 30-45 (1991-1998).
12. ICMI on WWW
Since the end of 1995, information concerning ICMI can be found on the ICMI-pages of the IMU-server on the World Wide Web. These pages are now located at the address:
The EC of ICMI is aware of the fact that the information appearing on the ICMI website has been at times partially outdated and has worked to improve this situation.
Bernard R. Hodgson, Secretary
Université Laval, Québec, Canada
10 May 2000