As is usually the case at the International Congresses on Mathematical Education, several countries have prepared on the occasion of ICME-9 various documents presenting their educational system and/or their national research network. A first set of examples were given in the ICMI Bulletin No. 40 (December 2000), p. 11, with documents from France, Italy and USA. The following document has since then been brought to the attention of the Secretary: At the request of the ICMI Executive Committee, the President and Secretary of ICMI, Hyman Bass and Bernard Hodgson, were invited to participate in part of the meeting of the Executive Committee of the International Mathematical Union (IMU) in Madrid on 14-17 May, 2000. Members of the IMU-EC that were present are:
Vladimir I. Arnold (Russia)
Jean-Michel Bismut (France)
Simon K. Donaldson (UK, Vice-President of IMU)
Bjorn Engquist (Sweden)
Phillip A. Griffiths (USA, Secretary of IMU)
Martin Grötschel (Germany)
Jacob Palis (Brazil, President of IMU)
Madabusi S. Raghunathan (India)
The general concerns which led to this meeting grew from the following perceptions by the ICMI leadership.
ICMI is organizationally subordinate to IMU, and materially dependent on IMU. This reflects a history in which ICMI was viewed by the IMU as providing a venue for the various educational interests of members of the mathematics research community. ICMI has grown into a major international organization that serves the mathematics education communities in a variety of ways, many of them not directly germane to the concerns of the mathematics research community. The organizational structures and practices that govern ICMI, under the authority of IMU, have not evolved sufficiently to acknowledge and facilitate the roles, intellectually and professionally, that ICMI now plays. This poorly adapted interface between the organizations has led to tensions that will likely be repeated and become more difficult if reasonable adjustment is not made. At the same time, the close ties of ICMI to the mathematics research community are a too rare phenomenon among professional educational organizations. This connection is greatly valued by all of the ICMI leadership, and nothing should be done to diminish it. What is sought is, rather, a more reciprocal and dignified intellectual relationship.
Hyman Bass was invited to report in the meeting on the concerns of ICMI. This was done with helpful supplements and clarifications from Bernard Hodgson. Since ICMI is not closely familiar to most mathematicians, including some members of the IMU-EC, the report began with a brief sketch of the work of ICMI: sponsorship and organization of the ICME's, including publication of their proceedings; the ICMI Studies; recognition and support of affiliated organizations and activities; publication of the ICMI Bulletin; connections with L'Enseignement Mathématique; contributions to the program of the ICM's; etc.
Following that came a review of the governance procedures by which ICMI, as a sub-commission of IMU, operates, indicating places where some adjustments seemed appropriate. This was accompanied by a discussion of the financial arrangements and circumstances of ICMI, again with indication of needed adjustments.
This report was generally well received. It generated a number of questions, and some serious and cordial discussion. At the end of the first day, based on this report and discussion, Bass and Hodgson prepared the following set of concrete proposals relating to the governance of ICMI, which were presented to the IMU-EC for consideration the following day.
IMU -> ICMI-EC
The President and Secretary of IMU are ex officio members of the ICMI-EC, but rarely attend its meetings. It would be good, in such circumstances, if some representative of IMU could be delegated to attend and actively participate in ICMI-EC meetings. Similarly for the ICMI General Assembly meetings.
ICMI -> IMU-EC
The President and Secretary of ICMI should receive the agendas of the IMU-EC meetings, in a timely fashion. When significant ICMI related matters are on these agendas, or when ICMI has concerns that it wishes to present to the IMU-EC, the President and Secretary of ICMI should be invited to participate in the relevant portions of the IMU-EC meetings.
IMU General Assembly
The President and Secretary of ICMI should be made ex officio members of the IMU General Assembly, with the right to speak, if not to vote.
This concerns the section of ICM currently called "Teaching and popularization of mathematics". The first request is that this title be changed to, "Mathematics education; popularization of mathematics". This section has become a site of tension between IMU and ICMI, where the two organizations perspectives on mathematics education are not always reconciled. IMU has clear jurisdiction over the venue, yet the session is intended to represent the professional and scholarly world to which ICMI is dedicated. To address this, it is proposed that the core of the selection panel for this section of the ICM draw at least one or two of its members from the ICMI-EC. These core members, in consultation with the program chair of the ICM, would then appoint the full selection panel.
For the International Program Committee (IPC) of the ICME, the IMU should designate a member, for which ICMI will reserve a place.
The core funding of ICMI comes from an annual subvention given by IMU. This has not been adjusted since 1995, and it was indicated that a significant increase would be necessary, and appropriate. ICMI plans to explore possible sources of external funding for particular projects and programs.
These proposals were respectfully heard and seriously discussed by the IMU-EC. On some of them, positive formal action was taken. On others sympathetic interest was shown, but formal policy action was not deemed necessary or appropriate.
Overall, the meeting was judged by the participants to have been constructive and successful in putting relations and communication between the two organizations on a better footing.
Hyman Bass, President of ICMI
4204C School of Education, 610 E. University
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1259 USA