[ICMI-News] ICMI News 9: April 2009
J Carvalho e Silva
jaimecs at mat.uc.pt
Fri May 8 12:26:07 CEST 2009
ICMI News 9: April 2009
A Bimonthly Email Newsletter from the
ICMI-International Commission on Mathematical
Instruction
Editor: Jaime Carvalho e Silva, Dep. Matematica,
Universidade de Coimbra, Portugal
CONTENTS
1. Editorial: The Relevance of Mathematics Education in India
2. ICMI Study 20: Educational Interfaces between
Mathematics and the Industry (EIMI)
3. ICMI Study 20: Discussion document (short version)
4. ICMI has a new website!
5. Exhibition "Experiencing Mathematics" in southern countries
6. Calendar of Events of Interest to the ICMI Community
7. Historical vignettes: David Eugene Smith, the proponent of ICMI
8. Subscribing to ICMI News
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1. Editorial: The Relevance of Mathematics Education in India
I am from India, a country of more than one
billion people. It is a country which exhibits
all shades - from substandard to sublime - in any
given field. I consider myself as a teacher of
mathematics at the Univerity level and I shall
confine myself with some of the achievements and
woes faced by us in the field of teaching
mathematics.
As the reader may know, India has produced some
very brilliant mathematicians and has a very
large pool of mathematicians. In spite of this,
most of us (in India) in the educational field
feel that there is an acute shortage of qualified
competent teachers especially at undergraduate
and graduate level.
The problem starts perhaps at the undergraduate
level. There are about 5000+ undergraduate
colleges in India. All of them are affiliated to
300+ universities and follow the curriculum laid
down by the University. The examinations are
conducted by the universities to award the
degrees. The sad fact is that the teaching at the
undergraduate level is the weakest link in higher
education. Most of the teachers are masters'
degree holders who passed their examination by
learning by rote. When they join undergraduate
colleges as faculties, they are given teaching
duties which, at the least, are 16 hours per week
along with innumerable other duties which their
employers expect from them as part of their
duties. So even those who want to spend time to
learn well so that their teaching is effective
are left with hardly any time to improve their
knowledge.
To remedy this situation, the Universities Grants
Commision, the statutory body, has introduced the
so-called Refresher Courses for
College/University teachers. While some results
are being seen, a lot needs to be done.
At primary and secondary school level, there is
the Homi Bhabha Center for Science Education, an
arm of Tata Institute, Mumbai, which is carrying
out impressive studies in the field of science
(including Mathematics) education. Based on their
research and studies, they have brought out
textbooks at school level. However, these books
are not adopted by the statutory bodies and most
of the teachers are not even aware of their
existence.
The nation has not realized the importance of
Mathematics Education as a discipline. So, I
think the main challenges that face us are to
look for answers on how Mathematics Education as
a discipline (i) can help develop a good
curriculum, (ii) what are the issues taken up for
study of various problems faced by teachers of
mathematics especially in developing countries
and the recommendations or solutions offered for
these (iii) at which places these recommendations
were implemented and what was the outcome and
more directly (iv) how mathematics education can
have a direct impact on the quality of
mathematics teaching.
At present, the general feeling in India, as in
many places, is that we need a lot of teachers
whose background knowledge is sound so that they
can do a competent job in teaching, but some are
skeptical about the ways mathematics education
research can help improve the situation. The ICMI
Executive Committee hopes that ICMI Study 15
Volume on the professional education and
development of teachers of mathematics, just
coming out, may contribute to change such views
and really help improve the quality of teacher
preparation all over the world.
S. Kumaresan, Member-at-large, ICMI-EC,
University of Hyderabad, Hyderbad, India,
kumaresa at gmail.com
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2. ICMI Study 20: Educational Interfaces between
Mathematics and the Industry (EIMI)
The International Commission on Mathematical
Instruction (ICMI) and the International Council
for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (ICIAM)
are pleased to announce the launching, as part of
the series of ICMI Studies, of a joint Study on
the theme
Educational Interfaces between Mathematics and the Industry (EIMI).
A recent OECD Global Science Forum on
"Mathematics in Industry" has recognized the
intimate connections between innovation, science
and mathematics. In view of these connections,
there is a need for a fundamental analysis and
reflection on strategies for the education and
training of students and maybe the development of
new ones. The EIMI Study (ICMI Study no. 20) will
seek to better understand these connections and
to offer ideas and suggestions on how education
and training can contribute to enhancing both
individual and societal developments. It will
examine the implications for education at the
intersection of these two communities of practice
- industrialists and mathematicians. The EIMI
Study will aim at maintaining a balance between
the perceived needs of industry for relevant
mathematics education and the needs of learners
for lifelong and broad education in a globalised
environment.
The two co-chairs for this Study are Alain
Damlamian (damla at univ-paris12.fr), Université de
Paris-Est, France, and Rudolf Sträßer
(Rudolf.Straesser at math.uni-giessen.de),
Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen, Germany. José
Francisco Rodrigues (rodrigue at ptmat.fc.ul.pt),
Universidade de Lisboa, Portugal, is the Local
Organiser.
The Discussion Document for the joint ICMI/ICIAM
Study, making a call for contributions, is
available on the study website:
http://eimi.mathdir.org/
The DEADLINE FOR SUBMISSION OF CONTRIBUTIONS is September 15, 2009.
The Study Conference of the Study will be held in Lisbon on April 19-23, 2010.
Members of the International Programme Committee:
Alain Damlamian (France, co-chair), Rudolf
Sträßer (Germany, co-chair), José Francisco
Rodrigues (Portugal, host country), Marta Anaya
(Argentina), Helmer Aslaksen (Singapore), Gail
FitzSimons (Australia), José Gambi (Spain),
Solomon Garfunkel (USA), Alejandro Jofré (Chile),
Henk van der Kooij (Netherlands), Li Ta-tsien
(China), Brigitte Lutz-Westphal (Germany),
Taketomo Mitsui (Japan), Nilima Nigam (Canada),
Fadil Santosa (USA), Bernard R. Hodgson (Ex
officio, ICMI), Rolf Jeltsch (Ex officio, ICIAM).
Bernard R. Hodgson, Secretary-General of ICMI, bhodgson at mat.ulaval.ca
------------------------------------------------------------------------
3. ICMI Study 20: Discussion document (short version)
EIMI STUDY: EDUCATIONAL INTERFACES BETWEEN MATHEMATICS AND INDUSTRY
The International Commission on Mathematical
Instruction (ICMI) and the International Council
for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (ICIAM)
are jointly launching the EIMI Study as part of
the series of ICMI Studies. It will seek to
better understand the connections between
innovation, science and mathematics and to offer
ideas and suggestions on how education and
training can contribute to enhancing both
individual and societal developments.
The Study will examine the implications for
education at the intersection of these two
communities of practice - industrialists and
mathematicians. We wish to emphasise that there
should be a balance between the perceived needs
of industry for relevant mathematics education
and the needs of learners for lifelong and broad
education in a globalised environment.
The Study aims at broadening the awareness: of
the integral role of mathematics in society; of
industry with respect to what mathematics can and
cannot realistically achieve; of industry with
respect to what school and university graduates
can and cannot do realistically in terms of
mathematics; and of mathematics teachers and
educators with regard to industrial practices and
needs with respect to education.
The Study also aims: to enhance the appropriate
usage of mathematics in society and industry; to
attract and retain more students, encouraging
them to continue their mathematical education at
all levels; and to improve mathematics curricula
at all levels of education.
To achieve these aims, ten content areas, each
one with several questions, are suggested:
1. The Role of Mathematics - Visibility & Black Boxes
People are rarely aware of the importance of
mathematics in modern technologies. The use of
mathematics in modern society should be more
visible questioning: How can mathematics,
especially industrial mathematics, be made more
visible to the public at large? How can
mathematics be made more appealing and exciting
to students and the professionals in industry?
How can mathematics serve a progressive rather
than a restrictive role in education and training
for the workplace? To what extent is it necessary
or desirable to describe the inner workings of
black boxes? What are the social implications of
not explaining the inner workings of black boxes?
2. Examples of Use of Technology and Mathematics
Modern workplaces are characterised by the use of
different types of technology including
Mathematics in fields as diverse as the chemical
industry, oil exploration, medical imaging,
micro- and nano-electronics, logistics &
transportation, finance, information security,
and communications and entertainment. What are
insightful examples of the role of technology in
showing and/or hiding mathematics in the
workplace? Does the existence of special types of
technology and the hiding of mathematics from the
view of the user imply a change in the
mathematical demands on the user? How? Do old
competencies like estimation of results and
reading of different scales become obsolete when
using modern technology? Or, do they become more
important? What are the social and political
consequences of the 'crystallising' and 'hiding'
of mathematics in black boxes?
3. Communication and Collaboration
In the workplace, mathematics is seldom
undertaken as an individual activity.
Mathematical work, mostly on modelling and
problem solving, is almost always a group
activity and frequently the groups involved are
made up of individuals with diverse expertise and
expectations: How to identify which societal
and/or industrial problems should be worked on?
How to better communicate within
multi-disciplinary working groups? How to
communicate the underlying mathematics to the
problem owners and/or general public? How to
achieve greater quantitative literacy among
school leavers, workers, and the general
population?
4. The teaching and learning of Industrial
Mathematics - Making Industrial Mathematics more
visible.
Who decides what will be explained and to whom?
How to decide the level of explanation for
various groups? How to organise teaching and
learning in order to make industrial mathematics
visible - if this is wanted/necessary? How much
is it appropriate to explain for educational
purposes in order to generate interest and
excitement without overwhelming the learner?
5. Using Technology and Learning with Technology: Modelling & Simulation
Using a new technology usually requires special
efforts to become acquainted with it, to develop
routines and practice. This can be an obstacle to
switching to a more modern technology as long as
the older one still "does the job". On the other
hand, change and innovation are necessary in
industry. How should one decide on the level of
detailed mathematics expected to be
taught/learned in a given vocational black box
situation? How can mathematics help the transfer
of technological procedures and/or solutions
between different fields of industry? What
criteria should be used to judge the
appropriateness of simulation in the teaching &
learning of industry related practice? How can
one compensate for the "standardising effects" of
any technology that is in widespread use?
6. Teaching and Learning for Communication and Collaboration
Communication and collaboration form an integral
and important part of the industrial use of
mathematics. Because of their importance in
industry, it is desirable to have these skills
taught and learned in all parts of education and
training, questioning: What communication skills
are specific to mathematics? Are there specific
skills for use in relation to industrial
mathematics? How do we teach mathematics as a
second language?
7. Curriculum and Syllabus Issues
A partnership between mathematics and industry
requires adjustments of the mathematics
curriculum. This can also impact the teaching of
mathematics in general, questioning: What are
the (dis)advantages of identifying a core
curriculum of mathematics for industry within the
general mathematical curriculum at various levels
and for various professions? What are useful ways
to introduce mathematics for industry into
vocational education? What are the
(dis)advantages of creating specific courses on
mathematics for industry vs. including the topic
in the standard mathematical courses at various
levels? What are the (dis)advantages of treating
mathematics for industry as an interdisciplinary
activity or as part of the traditional
mathematics syllabus?
8. Teacher Training
Teachers must be trained in new mathematical
content, pedagogy and assessment and to recognise
the presence of mathematics in society and
industry. What level of understanding of this
new content in relation to EIMI is appropriate
for each grade level? What are good practices
that support this new direction in teacher
training? How to implement these changes in an
efficient way?
9. Good Practices & Lessons to be Learned
In all sectors of education there are examples of
good practice in relation to the Study. This
Study would like to collect good examples of how
to integrate industry into the educational
process. Lessons to be learned from failures are
of the same interest as those from successes.
10. Research and Documentation
National and trans-national documentation is
widely missing in the field of mathematics and
industry. Suggestions and contributions
describing existing and future research and
documentation of activities in the field of
Educational Interfaces between Mathematics and
Industry will be most welcome.
------------------------------------------------------------------------
4. ICMI has a new website!
The Executive Committee of the International
Commission on Mathematical Instruction is pleased
to announce the opening of the new ICMI website.
This site is located on the server of the
International Mathematical Union, at
Konrad-Zuse-Zentrum in Berlin, and can be
accessed via both url
http://www.mathunion.org/ICMI/ or http://www.mathunion.org/icmi/
The renewal of the ICMI website has been long
overdue. The original site had been launched in
1995 and, besides periodical updates of
information, had undergone rather limited changes
over the years. A total revamping of the site,
both in design and in content, was thus highly
necessary and an action in that direction was
undertaken already by the previous Executive
Committee of ICMI. Unfortunately the whole
process took longer than expected and it is only
now that the new site can be made accessible to
the public.
During the process of preparation of the new
site, IMU decided to introduce for the
maintenance of its own website the use of TYPO3,
a free Open Source Web Content Management System.
In the final steps of its preparation, the new
site of ICMI has been transferred to the TYPO3
environment, which will make its maintenance and
updating easier for the ICMI EC. This has also
allowed for a redesign of the site, in particular
as regards the format of the window in which the
site is accessed.
The site as it now exists is not yet in a final
form, as some pages are still to be introduced or
completed. Nonetheless we believe that the site
is now mature enough to serve as a useful tool
for the community. As part of our development
goals, we want to have the site become the entry
point to the ICMI Digital Library, a project of
making available in freely downloadable versions
various ICMI publications, including the ICMI
Study volumes and the Proceedings of ICME
congresses. We would also wish to have the ICMI
site become a portal to various sources of
information on the teaching and learning of
mathematics in all parts of the world.
It is thus the hope of the ICMI Executive
Committee that the ICMI site will serve as a
useful channel of communication, not only about
ICMI and its activities, but also more generally
as regards various issues related to mathematics
education considered from an international
perspective. The ICMI EC welcomes comments and
suggestions not only about the current format and
content of the site, but also about its evolution
in order to better play such a role.
Bernard R. Hodgson, Secretary-General of ICMI, bhodgson at mat.ulaval.ca
------------------------------------------------------------------------
5. Exhibition "Experiencing Mathematics" in southern countries
After 5 years the exhibition was presented in
more than 100 cities of 35 countries, of which 30
from southern countries.
In 2008, it was presented in 6 countries of Latin
America, in Turkey and Asia (from India to Korea)
See http://www.MathEx.org .
Since ICME10 more than 600 000 visitors, 20 000
teachers and class students have visited it.
Since one year, we have added, with the support
of UNESCO, a virtual exhibition, mainly for the
secondary teachers of southern countries
(http://www.ExperiencingMaths.org).
In 2009-2010, it will be presented in Brazil (10
cities in 7 months), in Korea for one year and in
West Africa in 4 countries.
Michel Darche, Centre.Sciences, mldarche at free.fr
------------------------------------------------------------------------
6. Calendar of Events of Interest to the ICMI Community
10th conference Teaching Mathematics: Retrospectives and Perspectives
Institute of Mathematics and Sciences, Tallinn
University, Tallinn, Estonia, May 14-16, 2009
http://www.tlu.ee/bcmath2009/
3rd International Symposium on Mathematics and
its Connections to the Arts and Sciences
Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada, 21st-23rd of May, 2009
http://www.umoncton.ca/freimanv/macas3/index.htm
The 3rd International Symposium on the History
and Pedagogy of Mathematics in China
Beijing Normal University, Beijing, China, May 22-25, 2009
Xichi Wang, College of Mathematics & Natural
Sciences, Beijing Normal University
19 Xinjeikouwai St., Beijing, 100875., P. R. of China, xiciwang at mail.bnu.edu.cn
http://www.shuxueshi.cn
5th ICMSA (International Conference on
Mathematics, Statistics and Their Applications)
Department of Mathematics, FMIPA, Andalas
University, Indonesia, June 9 - 11, 2009
http://www.math-unand.org/icmsa/
5th Asian Mathematical Conference
Putra World Trade Centre, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, June 22-26, 2009
http://math.usm.my/amc2009/
ICTMT-9 - 9th Int Conf on Technology in Mathematics Teaching
Metz, France, July 6-9, 2009
http://www.ictmt9.org
Towards a Digital Mathematics Library (DML 2009)
Ontario, Canada, July 8-9th, 2009
http://www.fi.muni.cz/~sojka/dml-2009.html
Computer Algebra and Dynamic Geometry Systems in Mathematics Education
RISC, Castle of Hagenberg, Austria, July 11-13, 2009
http://www.risc.uni-linz.ac.at/about/conferences/cadgme2009/
First International GeoGebra Conference 2009
RISC, Castle of Hagenberg, Austria , July 14-15, 2009
http://www.geogebra.org/en/wiki/index.php/GeoGebra_Conference_2009
PME33 - 33rd Annual Meeting of the International
Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education
Thessaloniki, Greece, July 19-24, 2009
http://www.pme33.eu
Bridges Banff - Mathematics, Music, Art, Architecture, Culture
The Banff Centre, Banff, Alberta, Canada, July 26-29, 2009
http://bridgesmathart.org/bridges-2009/
CIEAEM61 - Commission internationale pour l'étude
et l'amélioration de l'enseignement des
mathématiques
Université de MONTRÉAL, Montréal, Québec, Canada, July 26-31, 2009
http://www.cieaem.net/
ICTMA 14 - 14th International Conference on the
Teaching of Mathematical Modelling and
Applications
University of Hamburg, Germany, July 27-31, 2009
http://www.ictma14.de/
SEMT '09 - 10th bi-annual conference on Elementary Mathematics Teaching,
"The development of mathematical understanding"
Prague, August 23-28, 2009
http://kmdm.pedf.cuni.cz
4th general meeting of European Women in Mathematics (EWM)
University of Novi Sad, Serbia, August 25-28, 2009
http://ewm2009.wordpress.com/
"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>alan at rogerson.pol.pl
ICREM4 - The 4th International Conference on
Research and Education in Mathematics 2009
K u a l a L u m p u r , M a l a y s i a, October 2 1 - 2 3 , 2 0 0 9
http://einspem.upm.edu.my/icrem4/
CoSMEd -Third International Conference on Science and Mathematics Education
Improving Science and Mathematics Literacy: Theory, Innovation and Practice
Penang, Malaysia, November 10-12, 2009
http://www.recsam.edu.my/cosmed/
SRD'09 - Southern Right Delta'09
7th Southern Hemisphere Conference on the Teaching
and Learning of Undergraduate Mathematics and Statistics
Gordons Bay, South Africa, 29 November-4 December 2009
http://www.delta2009.co.za
"Numeracy: Historical, philosophical and educational perspectives"
St Anne's College, Oxford, England, December 16-18, 2009
benjamin.wardhaugh at all-souls.ox.ac.uk
10th Islamic Countries Conference on Statistical Sciences (ICCSS-10)
Cairo, Egypt, December 20-23, 2009
http://www.iccs-x.org.eg/
------------------------------------------------------------------------
7. Historical vignettes: David Eugene Smith, the proponent of ICMI
David Eugene Smith, born on 21 January 1860 in
Cortland, New York, and educated at normal
schools, studied from 1877 on at Syracuse
University. During his undergraduate years there,
his interests were marked by travelling,
collecting objects and presenting his ideas. In
the summer of 1879, he undertook a two-month trip
to Europe - the first of his overseas travels.
Smith was still far from mathematics education:
after receiving a Bachelor of Philosophy degree
in July 1881, he entered his father's second
profession: he apprenticed in his father's law
office. He also continued his academic studies,
by travelling twice a week to Syracuse and being
advised there in graduate work in the disciplines
of history, modern languages and mathematics.
Eventually, in 1884, he was admitted to the bar
and awarded a Master of Philosophy degree. A
promising career as a lawyer seemed to be open
for him.
In that same year, however, an event changed his
life entirely. He began to teach mathematics at
the Cortland Normal School, at first by chance,
in order to 'help out' by substituting a missing
teacher. Since he had studied enough mathematics
at Syracuse to be effective as a teacher, the
principal asked him to accept the position.
Finding the law profession not especially
agreeable, Smith accepted and began thus his
pioneering work for mathematics education in the
USA.
During the next three years, he continued not
only his engagements as a lawyer, but also his
academic studies. Eventually, in 1887, he was
granted the Ph.D. degree by Syracuse University
in history of fine arts. While the courses he
taught at Cortland had been standard -
arithmetic, algebra, plane and solid geometry,
and trigonometry -, from 1887 on he introduced
courses on history of mathematics. After seven
years of teaching as a mathematics professor at
Cortland Normal School, he obtained the offer of
the position of mathematics professor at the
Michigan State Normal School, at Ypsilanti.
At Ypsilanti, from 1891 on, Smith developed the
kernel of his program for mathematics education.
The normal school there, affiliated with Michigan
University, had expanded to provide teacher
education for all types of public schools - not
only common schools, but also secondary schools.
Smith, becoming head of the mathematics
department, assured the academic level of teacher
education, balancing the professional and the
academic sides of the formation.
Wishing to exert an administrative position,
Smith moved in 1898 to Brockport, in the state of
New York, as principal of the Normal School.
While not teaching mathematics there, he
published his first seminal contribution to
mathematics education: the book The Teaching of
Elementary Mathematics (1900), a methodology for
mathematics teachers. After three years, in 1901,
he returned to training mathematics teachers
himself: at Teachers College, New York, the most
prestigious institution in the United States,
rivalled only by the school of Education at the
University of Chicago. Originally just somewhat
associated to Columbia University, Teachers
College had evolved to be a professional school
of university rank. Its students had to be
college graduates or experienced teachers. By
1910, Teachers College had raised its status even
more, and constituted a graduate college for
professional education within Columbia
University. Smith had been called to Teachers
College in order to raise in particular the
mathematics department to this level of quality.
In fact, in 1906, the first Ph.D. degrees in
mathematics education were conferred on two of
Smith's students.
Upon the proposal of Smith, the Fourth
International Congress of Mathematicians, Rome
1908, decided to establish an international
committee, the Internationale Mathematische
Unterrichtskommission, to study the situation of
mathematics instruction internationally. Also
upon his proposal, Felix Klein, Sir George
Greenhill, and Henri Fehr were elected as the
core of this committee, later named its Comitè
Central. Evidently, he was also the dynamic
element in the work of the US national
subcommittee, constituted in 1909. His merits
were acknowledged in 1912, when the next ICM in
Cambridge elected him to join the Comité Central;
later on, the Comité appointed him to act as an
additional vice-president of IMUK. During World
War I, Henri Fehr, committed to the Allied
Powers, tried to eliminate Klein as president and
urged Smith to assume this function. Smith did
not accept these offers and remained
vice-president until the dissolution of IMUK, in
1920. When it was re-established, in 1928, Smith
was elected its president. In 1932, he retired
from IMUK activities.
Due to his good relations with the mathematical
community in the States, he served as an
effective link between the demands of
mathematicians and the needs of professional
teacher training. From 1902 to 1920, Smith served
as an associate editor of the Bulletin of the
American Mathematical Society. He also served as
an associate editor of the journal of the
Mathematical Association of America, The American
Mathematical Monthly, from 1916 on. He was
elected president of the MAA for the term 1920 to
1921. He helped to organize the Association of
Teachers of Mathematics and was elected its first
president.
His publications were decisive in shaping
mathematics education in the United States. His
handbook of 1900 was followed by The Teaching of
Arithmetic in 1909 and by The Teaching of
Geometry in 1911. His textbooks in arithmetic,
algebra, and geometry and accompanying handbooks,
published since 1904, were dominant during the
1910s.
From his academic activities, Smith had retired
already in 1926. He died at his home in New York
City on July 29, 1944, after a long illness.
References
EILEEN F. DONOGHUE 1987, The origins of a
professional mathematics education program at
Teachers College, Ed.D. Thesis, Columbia
University New York, Teachers College
LAO GENEVRA L.G. SIMONS 1945, "David Eugene Smith
- In Memoriam", Bulletin of the AMS, 51, 40-50
Gert Schubring, Bielefeld University, Germany, gert.schubring at uni-bielefeld.de
------------------------------------------------------------------------
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