[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 
Editor: Jaime Carvalho e Silva, Dep. Matematica, 
Universidade de Coimbra, Portugal


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


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 

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 

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 

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


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 

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 

The Discussion Document for the joint ICMI/ICIAM 
Study, making a call for contributions, is 
available on the study website:


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)


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 

4. The teaching and learning of Industrial 
Mathematics - Making Industrial Mathematics more 
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 

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

3rd International Symposium on Mathematics and 
its Connections to the Arts and Sciences
Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada, 21st-23rd of May, 2009

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

5th ICMSA (International Conference on 
Mathematics, Statistics and Their Applications)
Department of Mathematics, FMIPA, Andalas 
University, Indonesia, June 9 - 11, 2009

5th Asian Mathematical Conference
Putra World Trade Centre, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, June 22-26, 2009

ICTMT-9 - 9th Int Conf on Technology in Mathematics Teaching
Metz, France,  July 6-9, 2009

Towards a Digital Mathematics Library (DML 2009)
Ontario, Canada, July 8-9th, 2009

Computer Algebra and Dynamic Geometry Systems in Mathematics Education
RISC, Castle of Hagenberg, Austria, July 11-13, 2009

First International GeoGebra Conference 2009
RISC, Castle of Hagenberg, Austria , July 14-15, 2009

PME33 - 33rd Annual Meeting of the International 
Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education
Thessaloniki, Greece, July 19-24, 2009

Bridges Banff - Mathematics, Music, Art, Architecture, Culture
The Banff Centre, Banff, Alberta, Canada, July 26-29, 2009

CIEAEM61 - Commission internationale pour l'étude 
et l'amélioration de l'enseignement des 
Université de MONTRÉAL, Montréal, Québec, Canada, July 26-31, 2009

ICTMA 14 - 14th International Conference on the 
Teaching of Mathematical Modelling and 
University of Hamburg, Germany, July 27-31, 2009

SEMT '09 - 10th bi-annual conference on Elementary Mathematics Teaching,
"The development of mathematical understanding"
Prague, August 23-28, 2009

4th general meeting of European Women in Mathematics (EWM)
University of Novi Sad, Serbia, August 25-28, 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>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 

CoSMEd -Third International Conference on Science and Mathematics Education
Improving Science and Mathematics Literacy: Theory, Innovation and Practice
Penang, Malaysia, November 10-12, 2009

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

"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


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 
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 
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 
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.


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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