[ICMI-News] ICMI News 3: April 2008

Jaime Carvalho e Silva jaimecs at mat.uc.pt
Tue Apr 22 10:25:16 CEST 2008

ICMI News 3: April 2008

A Bimonthly Email Newsletter from the 
ICMI-International Commission on Mathematical 
Editor: Jaime Carvalho e Silva, Dep. Matematica, 
Universidade de Coimbra, Portugal


1.  Editorial: Aspects of communication about --- and within --- ICMI
2.  The Felix Klein Medal for 2007 goes to Jeremy Kilpatrick
3.  The Hans Freudenthal Medal for 2007 goes to Anna Sfard
4.  HPM welcomes you!
5.  More news about the 11th ICME-International 
Congress on Mathematical Education
6.  The Second Meeting of ICMI 2007-09 Executive Committee
7.  Assessing the quality of research in mathematics education
8.  Free PDFs of National Academy reports (USA)
9.  Calendar of Events of Interest to the ICMI Community
10.  Historical vignettes: How the first ICME congress was born
11.  Subscribing to ICMI News


1.  Editorial: Aspects of communication about --- and within --- ICMI

For an organisation such as ICMI, communication 
with the community it serves is of the utmost 
importance.  The recent launching of the 
electronic newsletter "ICMI News" as a new 
channel of communication provides an opportunity 
for looking back at the various solutions 
adopted, since the inception of ICMI, to 
disseminate information about the Commission: 
about its mission, actions, programmes of 
activities, and publications.

When ICMI was established at the 1908 
International Congress of Mathematicians held in 
Rome, the journal "L'Enseignement Mathématique" 
(L'EM), founded just a few years earlier, was 
immediately adopted as the official organ of the 
newly born Commission.  This may be of no 
surprise since the first Secretary-General of 
ICMI, Henri Fehr, was one of the two founding 
editors of L'EM. 

While L'EM played a major role over the following 
decades as regards maintaining an official record 
of ICMI reports and activities, the need arose 
for a lighter and more flexible means of 
communication between ICMI and its community. 
This was particularly expressed at ICME-2, held 
in August-September 1972 in Exeter, where "many 
requests" were made "for improved methods" for 
"increasing the spread of information concerning 
activities of ICMI and other matters of interest 
to mathematical educators" (excerpts from the 
first issue of the "ICMI Bulletin", pp. 1-2). 
This led barely a month later to the launching of 
the "ICMI Bulletin" under the editorship of the 
ICMI Secretary[-General], but with L'EM 
explicitly continuing to be the official journal 
of ICMI (as stated in the "Report on the period 
1971-74" by ICMI President Sir James Lighthill, 
see L'EM 21 (1975) p. 330).  Over the years the 
Bulletin has proved to be a useful channel of 
information, even if its frequency of appearance 
has at times been somewhat erratic.

In order to make information and material about 
ICMI more easily accessible (including the ICMI 
Bulletin), the first version of the ICMI website 
was launched at the end of 1995, again under the 
responsibility of ICMI Secretary[-General].  The 
site was then, and still is, hosted on the server 
of the International Mathematical Union, ICMI's 
mother organisation.

Finally, inspired by the success of IMU email 
newsletter "IMU-Net", launched in September 2003, 
the current ICMI Executive Committee decided at 
its first meeting, held in June 2007, to 
establish a similar means of prompt, efficient 
and brief communication, the first issue of ICMI 
News having been published in December 2007 and 
the appearance occurring every other month, in 
alternation with IMU-Net.  Needless to say, the 
EC is extremely pleased by the enthusiastic 
reception of this new tool among the community.

Thus, ICMI now has at its disposal four different 
channels of communication: L'EM, the Bulletin, 
the website and ICMI News.  Collectively these 
serve a variety of purposes, from formal archival 
needs to detailed reports on some aspects of the 
life of ICMI or short announcements of activities 
to come, including the permanent online 
availability of a large number of ICMI documents 
of all sorts. 

Besides the precise nature of the channels 
through which information is conveyed, another 
crucial aspect of the quality and efficiency of 
communication about and inside ICMI concerns the 
linguistic vehicle thus used.  It is of great 
interest to see that the launching of ICMI News 
was accompanied, thanks to the efforts of its 
editor Jaime Carvalho e Silva, by a Portuguese 
version, achieved through the collaboration of 
several members of the Portuguese community. 
ICMI would hope for more of such outreach to 
happen with ICMI News, which in a way costs 
rather little.  (Possibly online language 
translators can help reduce the burden by 
allowing to concentrate on editing rather than 
time-consuming full translation.) 

Although the four communication channels 
mentioned above function almost exclusively in 
English, the ICMI EC is sensitive to the need of 
diminishing the linguistic difficulties of 
colleagues for whom working in English can at 
times be an obstacle to a full involvement in 
discussions about educational issues, be it 
orally or in a written form.  Still it is 
probably difficult to go back to what appears to 
be the multilingual days of the birth of ICMI, 
when French, German and English seemed to be on 
almost equal levels --- at least judging from 
correspondence or reports about ICMI from that 
time.  And the futuristic dream conveyed by the 
ICMI President, in her closing words at the 
celebration of ICMI Centennial in Rome early 
March, of having participants at symposia to come 
to each speak in his or her mother tongue and 
have everyone understand each other through some 
special automatic translation device, will 
clearly not materialise tomorrowŠ 

The fact that English is today's "lingua franca", 
including for ICMI, is not to be denied, and on 
the contrary must be used as efficiently and 
positively as possible.  The main point is to 
ensure that such a position of English as a 
vector for communication is an opportunity for 
inclusiveness, not one for the preponderance or 
even dominance of a given linguistic group on 
others.  (On that subject, one of the Survey 
Teams at ICME-10 pointed to rather delicate 
issues relating to the predominance in the 
literature on mathematical education of authors 
having English as a first language as well as, 
more generally, of research in countries where 
English is the national language --- see J. Adler 
et al. in "Educational Studies in Mathematics" 60 
(2005) pp. 359-381.)  Having myself French as a 
mother tongue --- in spite of my patronymic ---, 
I am very sensitive to the issue of an adequate 
and decidedly inclusive use of English in the 
life of ICMI, and so are my ICMI EC colleagues. 
On the other hand, the EC also supports 
language-related initiatives such as the 
geolinguistic network "Espace Mathématique 
Francophone" (EMF), one of ICMI series of 
regional conferences, or, as regards the context 
of ICME congresses, the presence of Spanish at 
ICME-11 for instance, when it is the case that 
the language of the host country of an ICME is at 
the same time an international one shared among 
various countries.

Bernard R. Hodgson, Secretary-General of ICMI, bhodgson at mat.ulaval.ca


2. The Felix Klein Medal for 2007 goes to Jeremy Kilpatrick

The Felix Klein Medal for 2007 goes to
Jeremy Kilpatrick, University of Georgia, Athens, GA, USA

It is with great pleasure that the ICMI Awards 
Committee hereby announces that the Felix Klein 
Medal for 2007 is given to Professor Jeremy 
Kilpatrick, University of Georgia, Athens, GA, 
USA, in recognition of his more than forty years 
of sustained and distinguished lifetime 
achievement in mathematics education research and 
development. Jeremy Kilpatrick's numerous 
contributions and services to mathematics 
education as a field of theory and practice, as 
he prefers to call it, are centered around his 
extraordinary ability to reflect on, critically 
analyse, and unify essential aspects of our field 
as it has developed since the early 20th century, 
while always insisting on the need for 
reconciliation and balance among the points of 
view taken, the approaches undertaken, and the 
methodologies adopted for research. It is a 
characteristic feature of Jeremy Kilpatrick that 
he has always embraced a very cosmopolitan 
perspective on mathematics education. Thus he has 
worked in Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, Italy, 
New Zealand, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, 
Sweden, and Thailand, in addition to being, of 
course, extraordinarily knowledgeable about the 
international literature.

Throughout his academic career, Jeremy Kilpatrick 
has published groundbreaking papers, book 
chapters and books - many of which are now 
standard references in the literature - on 
problem solving, on the history of research in 
mathematics education, on teachers' proficiency, 
on curriculum change and its history, and on 

Mogens Niss, Chair, The ICMI Awards Committee, mn at ruc.dk


3. The Hans Freudenthal Medal for 2007 goes to Anna Sfard

The Hans Freudenthal Medal for 2007 goes to
Anna Sfard, University of Haifa, Israel, and the 
Institute of Education, University of London, UK, 
also affiliated to Michigan State University.

It is with great pleasure that the ICMI Awards 
Committee hereby announces that the Hans 
Freudenthal Medal for 2007 is given to Professor 
Anna Sfard, University of Haifa, Israel, and the 
University of London, UK, in recognition of her 
highly significant and scientifically deep 
accomplishments within a consistent, long-term 
research programme focused on objectification and 
discourse in mathematics education, which has had 
a major impact on many strands of research in 
mathematics education and on numerous young 

In addition to publications related to the 
above-mentioned research programme, Anna Sfard 
has published numerous other papers and book 
chapters within a broad range of topics. It is a 
characteristic feature of Anna Sfard's scientific 
achievements that they are always very thorough, 
original and intellectually sharp. She often 
uncovers the tacit if not hidden assumptions 
behind notions, approaches, and conventional 
wisdom, and by turning things upside-down she 
usually succeeds in generating new fundamental 
and striking insights into complex issues and 

Mogens Niss, Chair, The ICMI Awards Committee, mn at ruc.dk


4. HPM welcomes you!

HPM is the International Study Group on the 
Relations between History and Pedagogy of 
Mathematics affiliated to the International 
Commission on Mathematical Instruction (ICMI).
By combining the history of mathematics with the 
teaching and learning of mathematics, HPM is the 
link between the past and the future of 
mathematics. Therefore, the group aims at 
stressing the conception of mathematics as a 
living science, a science with a long history, a 
vivid present and an as yet unforeseen future. 
Among members of the group are researchers in 
mathematics education, mathematicians, historians 
of mathematics, teachers of mathematics and 
curriculum developers.

ICME Satellite Meetings of HPM
Among the activities of the HPM Group, there is 
the tradition of organizing conferences that are 
satellite meetings to the International Congress 
on Mathematical Education (ICME), organized by 
ICMI every four years, since 1984. The 7th one 
will take place in Mexico City in July 2008.

European Summer University on the History and 
Epistemology in Mathematics Education
Closely related to the activities of the HPM 
Group is the organization of the European Summer 
University on the History and Epistemology in 
Mathematics Education (ESU).
The initiative of organizing such a Summer 
University belongs to the French Mathematics 
Education community, in the early 1980's. From 
those meetings emerged the organization of a SU 
on a European scale, since 1993. The 5th one took 
place in 2007 in Prague, Czech Republic.

Other Meetings and Conferences
Also there are regional meetings organized by HPM 
in different countries. Additionally, in various 
conferences, there are special sections organized 
on themes that are of interest to HPM.
For example: The Topic Study Groups (TSG) at ICME-10 (Copenhagen 2004)
TSG 17: The role of the history of mathematics in mathematics education
TSG 29: The history of the teaching and the learning of mathematics
There will be the same TSGs (as TSG 23 and TSG 38 
respectively) at ICME-11 in Monterrey, Mexico in 
July 2008.

The HPM Newsletter
The HPM publishes a Newsletter three times per 
year (67 issues have been published and since 
2000 they are available online). The Newsletter 
is available by contacting the regional 
representatives (see last pages of any recent 
issue), or can be downloaded from the HPM 
websites (see below).

The HPM websites
Further information on the group, its aims, 
history and activities, together with details on 
relevant documents and resources can be found in 
the HPM official website 
http://www.clab.edc.uoc.gr/HPM/ and the website 
of the Americas Section of the HPM Group 

Constantinos Tzanakis, Chair of the HPM Group, tzanakis at edc.uoc.gr


5. More news about the 11th ICME-International 
Congress on Mathematical Education

The program of ICME-11 is rapidly being defined and if we go to its website
it is clear that this Congress is going to be 
very exciting and will leave very valuable
lessons to all those attending. If you register before June 1st you will have a
discounted registration fee and everything can be done online very smoothly.
I will just point out now the variety and 
richness of the plenary activities. Namely

PS 1. What do we know that we did not know ten 
years ago, what have we achieved and what have we 
missed out? Positive results as researchers and 
mathematics educators, The nature of evidence of 
results in student outputs, What is a good 
mathematics education? What is society asking 
from us? Do we understand learning/teaching the 
same way?
Speakers: Michèle Artigue (France), Jeremy Kilpatrick (USA)

PS 2. What do we need to know? Does research in 
mathematics education address the concerns of 
practitioners and policy makers?
Panel moderator: David Clarke (Australia)
Panelists: Paul Cobb (USA), Mariolina Bartolini 
Bussi (Italy), Teresa Rojano (Mexico), Shiqi Li 

PS 3. Current trends in mathematics
Speaker: José Antonio de la Peña (Mexico)

PS 4. History of the development of mathematics 
education in Latin American countries.
Panel moderator: Fidel Oteiza (Chile)
Panelists: Eugenio Filloy (Mexico), Ubiratan 
D´Ambrosio (Brazil), Luis Campistrous (Cuba), 
Carlos Vasco (Colombia)

PS 5. Equal access to quality mathematics education.
Panel Moderator: Bill Atweh (Australia)
Panelists: Olimpia Figueras (Mexico), Murad 
Jurdak (Lebanon), Catherine Vistro-Yu (The 

PS 6. Knowledge for teaching mathematics
Speakers: Toshiakira Fujii (Japan), Ruhama Even (Israel)

PS 7. Technology and mathematics education
Speaker: Celia Hoyles (United Kingdom)

PS 8. Report of Survey Team 3: The impact of 
research findings in mathematics education on 
students´ learning of mathematics
Organizer on behalf of Survey Team 3: Angel Gutiérrez (Spain)

PS 9. Report of Survey Team 4: Representations of 
mathematical concepts, objects and processes in 
mathematics teaching and learning
Organizer on behalf of Survey Team 4: Gerald Goldin (USA)

These are 9 good reasons to attend ICME-11.
You will not want to miss this.
Register now!


6.  The Second Meeting of ICMI 2007-09 Executive Committee

The second meeting of the current ICMI Executive 
took place at the Accademia dei Lincei in Rome on 
4th and 9th of March around the Symposium of the 
100th Anniversary of ICMI. It was chaired by 
Michèle Artigue, ICMI President. Also present 
were Bernard Hodgson (Secretary-General), Jill 
Adler, Mariolina Bartolini Bussi, Bill Barton, 
Hyman Bass, Jaime Carvalho e Silva, Celia Hoyles, 
S. Kumaresan, Frederick Leung, Alexei Semenov. 
László Lovász, President of IMU and ex-officio 
member of Executive, and Claudio Procesi, 
Vice-President of IMU, also partially attended 
the meeting.
The focus of this meeting was arrangements for 
ICME-11 in Mexico in July. The successful 
deliberations of the ICME-11 Grants Committee 
were reported, noting, in particular, the grant 
from NCTM (USA) that made possible more generous 
support of participants from non-affluent 
countries. The organisation of the Opening 
Ceremony and Award presentations were decided, 
and the Agenda for the ICMI General Assembly set. 
This last is extremely important in 2008 because 
it will be the first time that the ICMI General 
Assembly elects the Executive Committee of the 
Commission. Practical arrangements for ICME-11 at 
the main campus of the UANL (Universidad Autónoma 
de Nuevo León) are now in place, and the 
Executive is looking forward to a successful 
Considerable discussion also took place about two 
new ICMI Studies to be launched in the near 
future. The IPC is currently being formed for a 
study on Teaching and Learning Mathematics in 
Constrained Conditions: The Case of Language. 
Progress was also made regarding another study 
relating mathematics education to industry and 
the workplace and undertaken in conjunction with 
ICIAM (International Council for Industrial and 
Applied Mathematics).
Two further projects, the Pipeline Project and a 
proposed Klein Project, were also advanced. The 
former will have a preliminary report available 
by the end of the year. The Klein project is a 
proposed joint project with IMU, and has been 
referred to the IMU Executive.
Organisational issues, relating to the 
establishment of a permanent secretariat in 
conjunction with IMU and putting ICMI on a firmer 
financial footing, were also discussed.

Bill Barton, Vice-President of ICMI, barton at math.auckland.ac.nz


7. Assessing the quality of research in mathematics education
(Summary of a text prepared by the ICMI Executive Committee)

All over the world, there is an increasing 
tendency to rely on numbers, such as impact 
factors and citation indices, for assessing the 
quality of scientific research. The field of 
Mathematics Education does not escape this 

The SSCI (Social Sciences Citation Index) of ISI 
Thompson, the index most widely in use, includes 
many journals in the field of education, but only 
one in mathematics education: the Journal for 
Research in Mathematics Education (JRME), which 
was included in the index a long time ago. The 
applications made by Educational Studies in 
Mathematics (ESM), founded in 1968 by Hans 
Freudenthal, ICMI President from 1967 to 1970, 
which is widely recognised by the international 
mathematics education community as one of the 
major international journals in the field, if not 
the premier journal, have not been successful up 
to now. JRME and ESM are, in terms of citations, 
by far the major journals in the field, and 
including one and not the other in an index does 
not make sense from a scientific point of view. 
One might even consider that ESM has a broader 
international coverage than JRME.

The ICMI EC looked into the situation and feels 
that it is obliged to draw to the attention of 
those in charge of the evaluation of research in 
mathematics education, the scientific bias of the 
current situation. The ICMI EC is in no doubt 
that the SSCI of  ISI Thompson cannot be 
considered as an appropriate means for 
appreciating and assessing the quality of 
research in mathematics education. Because of the 
potentially harmful effects on our field of the 
use of this metric, the ICMI EC is more than 
willing to collaborate with ISI or other agencies 
in their efforts to achieve an improved 
representation and evaluation of research in 
mathematics education.

The ICMI EC would like to point out that, even if 
it is the most used, the SSCI is not the only 
reference list in use today. The European Science 
Foundation, for instance, has recently created in 
the European Reference Index for the Humanities 
(ERIH) a list for journals on Pedagogical and 
Educational Research, which has the aim of 
helping to identify excellence in Humanities 
scholarship. It is our judgement that the 
representation of research in mathematics 
education journals is better in ERIH than in 
SSCI, although it too might be improved.
The full text of the ICMI EC position can be seen on the web at


8. Free PDFs of National Academy reports (USA)

The National Academy of Sciences of the United 
States would like to let you know that 
individuals from developing countries can 
Please share this resource with your colleagues.

Once the desired book has been selected on the 
NAP website, free PDF books will have a "SIGN IN" 
link at the bottom of the "purchase options" box. 
 The user has to click on this link, complete a 
short survey, and then can download the book. 
Detailed information about which countries are 
eligible and how the process works is available 
at the following link: 
Note that the user's computer must have an IP 
address in one of the eligible countries.

Ester Sztein, Program Officer for the Board on 
International Scientific Organizations of the 
National Academies (USA).


9. Calendar of Events of Interest to the ICMI Community

Future Curricular Trends in School Algebra and Geometry
Univ. Chicago, USA, May 2-4, 2008

International Consortium for Research in Science and Mathematics Education
ICRSME XII - 2008 Consultation
Quito, Ecuador, May 13-16, 2008

The Second International Conference on Education for Real-Life Learning
University of Bristol, UK, June 19-21, 2008

Fifth U.S. Conference on Computer Algebra Systems 
(CAS) in Secondary Mathematics
Northfield, IL, USA, June 28-29, 2008

International Society for Design and Development in Education
ISDDE 2008 conference
Egmond aan Zee, the Netherlands, June 29 - July 2, 2008

Joint ICMI /IASE Study Statistics Education in School Mathematics:
Challenges for Teaching and Teacher Education
ICMI Study and IASE Round Table Conference
ITESM, Monterrey, Mexico, June 30-July 4, 2008

ICME-11 - Mexico 2008
11th International Congress on Mathematical Education
Monterrey, Mexico, July 6 - 13, 2008.

HPM 2008:  History and Pedagogy of Mathematics
The HPM Satellite Meeting of ICME-11,
National Mexican University, Mexico City (UNAM), Mexico, July 14-18, 2008

Fifth European Congress of Mathematics
Amsterdam RAI Center, Netherlands, July 14-18, 2008

PME32 & PME-NA30 Mexico joint conference
Morelia, Mexico, July 17-21 2008.
PME33: Thessaloniki - Greece, July 19-24, 2009
PME34: Univ. Fed. Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte, Brazil - July 2010

MathFest 2008
Madison, WI, USA, July 31- August 2 2008

10th Iranian Mathematics Education Conference (IMEC-10)
Yazd, Iran, August 12-15, 2008
Contact: a_rejali at cc.iut.ac.ir, soheila_azad at yahoo.com

4th European Workshop on Mathematical & Scientific e-Contents
Trondheim, Norway, September 11-13, 2008,

TIME-2008: Technology and its Integration in Mathematics Education
Tshwane Univ. of Tech., Buffelspoort, South Africa, September 22-26, 2008

ATCM-13: 13th Asian Technology Conference in Mathematics
Bangkok, Thailand,  December 15-19, 2008

ICTMT-9 - 9th Int Conf on Technology in Mathematics Teaching
Metz, France,  July 4-8, 2009

"Models in Developing Mathematics Education"
The Mathematics Education into the 21st Century Project
Dresden, Saxony, Germany, September 11-17, 2009
<mailto:arogerson at inetia.pl>arogerson at inetia.pl


10. Historical vignettes: How the first ICME congress was born

Anyone "under a certain age" who looks at the ICMI History website
to discover what the first ICME was like will 
almost certainly be surprised and not greatly 
impressed:  just a long list of the plenary 
lectures that were given.

However, to those of us who went to Lyon this was 
an exciting time even though the programme might 
have had its great disappointments.  For example, 
in 1969 I was employed on educational development 
overseas and was disturbed that there was no 
mention in Lyon of the problems I encountered in 
the countries I had visited.  Yet we could 
rejoice that this was the first time that 
mathematics educators had had a truly 
international congress to themselves, where they 
could design the programme and its emphases. 

But what were those emphases to be?  This was 
only made clear to me at the Budapest ICME in 
1988 when I had my last conversation with Hans 
Freudenthal.  He was not happy with the way in 
which that ICME had been organised: "when I 
planned ICME-1 it was as a showcase for all that 
was best in mathematics education; the present 
ICME is more like a bazaar".  If, then, one was 
only concerned in Lyon with exhibiting what was 
good, there was no room to discuss the problems 
of those who were simply striving to be better. 
It is important to keep this in mind when 
considering the form that ICME-1 took.  It was, 
of course, the form to which Freudenthal had 
become accustomed at the four-yearly congresses 
of the International Mathematical Union.  Thus 
the published programme for ICME-1 told of 20 
plenary talks (four of which were given by women) 
and the opportunity for members to present 
20-minute short papers in the afternoons.  All 
these meetings were held in the one large hall 
and it was very depressing to see an audience of 
thirty or so scattered around it while a short 
paper was being given.

In view of Freudenthal's aims for the Congress, 
and the fact that the selection of speakers owed 
much to him, it was not surprising that almost 
all came from Europe and that the remainder were 
from North America.  Nevertheless, I was able to 
see and hear many leading mathematics educators 
whose names were familiar but whom I had never 
met.  The talks were in the main devoted to 
curricular issues within schools.  There was no 
mention of the teaching of mathematics at 
university level or for vocational purposes. 
However, there were interesting and important 
talks by Ed Begle on "The role of research in the 
improvement of mathematics education", André 
Delessert on teacher education, Arthur Engel 
(whose talks and papers I personally always 
prized very highly) and Henry Pollak on the 
relevance and teaching of applications of 
mathematics, Efraim Fischbein on "Mathematics 
teaching and intellectual development", and Bryan 
Thwaites on "The role of the computer in school 
mathematics".  In retrospect, though, I should 
not wish many of those who spoke at Lyon to be 
judged on the papers they presented there.  In 
particular, two speakers whom I was later to 
delight in working with, Bent Christiansen and 
Emma Castelnuovo, gave talks which did not truly 
represent what I most valued in them.

A Congress, though, is not only about what one 
finds in the printed programme.  My personal 
memories extend much further than those plenary 
talks.  There was the pleasure of meeting, 
speaking with, and learning from, members from 
other countries - perhaps the most important part 
of any congress.  There was the chaos caused by 
the fact that the supplier of the official 
lunches provided such a bad one on the first day 
that Freudenthal and Maurice Glaymann, who 
shouldered so much of the local organisation, 
immediately cancelled the contract with the 
restaurateur.  Coaches were then organised to 
take those members who had ordered lunches out to 
the airport restaurant - a journey that 
necessitated the retiming of all the afternoon 
sessions.  Later, Freudenthal told me that the 
outcome was a court case, although I can no 
longer remember which side brought the suit.  He, 
Freudenthal, pleaded that the restaurant's 
cooking was such as to bring French cuisine into 
disrepute and the judge was so influenced as to 
award damages to ICMI.  With this money and 
further help from UNESCO, Freudenthal then 
mounted a seminar for invited educators that 
resulted in the third volume of UNESCO's series, 
"New Trends in Mathematics Teaching".  Then there 
was the congress excursion when the members 
(about 650 I believe) set out in coaches, for 
some reason accompanied by an escort of policemen 
on motorcycles, for the Beaujolais region where 
after wine tasting at various vineyards we 
enjoyed an excellent dinner and yet more wine; 
leaving some members decidedly light-headed.

Attempts, too, were made to add unplanned 
elements to the programme.  Alan Bishop and I 
both recall that the British Association of 
Teachers of Mathematics brought a bus filled with 
schoolchildren - but neither of us can remember 
if they ever found a home in which they could 
take part in demonstration lessons.  Also, after 
complaints from members it was arranged that on 
one evening there would be two discussion groups 
at which contributions could be made in English, 
French, and possibly German.  Alas, that was not 
a success so far as I was concerned, for I was 
persuaded, despite the pleas that my French was 
rudimentary, to act as chairman for the group 
that was to discuss the place of axiomatics in 
school mathematics.  Now, I recall Karl Menger 
writing how, early in his lecturing career, he 
was advised that, "You must never underestimate 
the ignorance of your audience".  After that 
meeting I could give somewhat similar advice: 
"Never underestimate the speed at which an 
excited Frenchman can speak".  1969 was the time 
that a new, extremely abstract mathematics 
curriculum had been introduced in France and 
there were great divisions between its teachers 
relating to its suitability.  (This unrest was 
also evident at ICME-2 when some French members 
walked out of the talk by René Thom when he 
criticised "modern mathematics".)  The meeting 
got very heated, but, alas, the chairman was 
unable to comprehend French spoken at such speed 
and, at times, such vehemence.  Perhaps those 
with better French than I derived something 
useful from the meeting.  I certainly learned one 
important lesson, but that did not relate to a 
greater understanding of the place of axiomatics 
in school mathematics!

ICME-1, then, had its problems, but that it came 
about at all was a triumph for mathematics 
education.  It provided a foundation on which to 
build and for those of us on the Programme 
Committee for ICME-2 it gave us a clearer idea of 
the changes that needed to be made.  We must be 
grateful to Hans Freudenthal and Maurice Glaymann 
for embarking on such an initiative.

Geoffrey Howson, former Secretary-General of ICMI

Note from the editor: the ICMI History website 
was created by Fulvia Furignhetti
and Livia Giacardi with the cooperation of Daniel 
Coray, Marta Menghini and Gert Schubring on the 
occasion of the ICMI Centennial meeting in Rome 
in March 2008 and is available at
The ICMI Centennial meeting website is still available at
where pictures of the event can also be found.



There are two ways of subscribing to ICMI News:

1. Click on http://www.mathunion.org/ICMI/Mailinglist with a Web browser
and go to the "Subscribe" button to subscribe to ICMI News online.

2. Send an e-mail to icmi-news-request at mathunion.org with the Subject-line:
Subject: subscribe

In both cases you will get an e-mail to confirm your subscription so
that misuse will be minimized. ICMI will not use the list of ICMI News
addresses for any purpose other than sending ICMI News, and will not
make it available to others.

Previous issues can be seen at:

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://www.mathunion.org/pipermail/icmi-news/attachments/20080422/26a9cc04/attachment.html>

More information about the ICMI-News mailing list