Yingkang Wu, Jianpan Wang, Binyan Xu, Jiansheng Bao
East China Normal University, Shanghai, China
The 14th International Congress on Mathematical Education (ICME-14) was grandly held at East China Normal University in Shanghai from July 11 to 18, 2021. This was the first time that an ICME was held in China since the first ICME was held in Lyon, France, in 1969. It was of milestone significance to promote the development, exchange and cooperation of Chinese mathematics education theory and practice. The hosts of this Congress were the Chinese Mathematical Society, the East China Normal University, and the Shanghai Mathematical Society. The congress chair of ICME-14 was Professor WANG Jianpan from East China Normal University.
Due to the influence of the global COVID-19 pandemic, ICME-14, originally scheduled for July 2020, was postponed for a year. Under the background of COVID-19 global communication, with the support of the China Association for Science and Technology, China’s Ministry of Education, and Shanghai municipal government, with the joint efforts of mathematicians and mathematics educators at home and abroad, ICME-14 was successfully held under the unremitting efforts of the IPC and LOC members.
The opening ceremony of ICME-14 was held from 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. local time on July 11, 2021. Li Qiang, Secretary of Shanghai municipal Party committee, Yu Shaoliang, deputy secretary, and Weng Tiehui, Vice Minister of education, attended the opening ceremony. Secretary Li Qiang and Vice Minister Weng Tiehui also delivered speeches at the congress. Huai Jinpeng, Secretary of the Party group of China Association for Science and Technology at that time and now the minister of China’s Ministry of Education, gave a wonderful speech in video form because he was unable to attend the opening ceremony in person due to official business. Also addressing the opening ceremony were Prof. Frederick Leung, President of ICMI, Professor Tian Gang, President of the Chinese Mathematics Association, and Qian Xuhong, President of East China Normal University. Wang Jianpan presided over the opening ceremony.
ICME-14 was a unique and unforgettable event in the history of this Congress. First of all, the organizational form of this conference was special by adopting a hybrid mode combining online and offline for the first time. The congress activities were arranged between 2 p.m. and 11 p.m. local time, so as to provide participants in different time zones with the best possible participation time. Under such careful arrangement, the scale of the conference was unaffected compared with previous ones, attracting a total of 3156 participants, including 1663 online participants and 1493 offline participants. The offline participants included 662 officially registered participants and 831 special participants (mainly mathematics teachers in primary and secondary schools in Shanghai). Although a majority of the participants could not communicate face-to-face, they could still exchange and share their understanding and latest research progress on mathematics and mathematics education via strong technological support.
Secondly, ICME-14 provided participants with a grand academic feast by arranging various academic activities. It contained 4 plenary lectures, 3 plenary panels, 4 survey teams, 3 national presentations, more than 60 invited lectures, 13 thematic afternoon activities, 62 topic study groups, 15 discussion groups, 27 workshops, and more than 300 posters. The congress also presented the Felix Klein Award and the Hans Freudental Award of 2017 and 2019, and the Emma Castelnuovo Award of 2020. The Award Ceremony was chaired by Fredrick Leung and conducted in a combined online and offline format, with 5 awardees also delivering lectures.
In particular, the Topic Study Group (TSG) is worth mentioning. On the one hand, ICME-14 set up a total of 62 TSGs, the greatest amount in the history of the congress. The 62 TSGs published a total of 1259 academic reports, from research on teaching and learning in different branches of mathematics and at different stages to mathematics education for various groups and multiple objectives, from mathematics teacher education to the development of mathematics curriculum and teaching materials, from mathematics education in a multicultural and multilingual environment to international cooperation in mathematics education, from neuroscience and mathematics learning and cognition to the methods and methodology of mathematics education research, from the application of ICT tools in mathematics education to evaluation and testing in mathematics education, providing a communication platform for participants at home and abroad. On the other hand, the 62 TSGs were divided into two classes, which were held at different times. This also broke the tradition that participants in previous congresses can only choose to participate in one TSG, and provided participants with the opportunity to participate in other TSGs.
Thirdly, it reflected close cooperation between mathematicians and mathematics educators to jointly promote the development of mathematics education research and practice. Voices and views of mathematicians could be heard frequently in the Congress. For example, the speaker of the first plenary lecture was Cédric Villani, a famous French mathematician and winner of the 2010 Fields Medal. He gave a report entitled "Mathematics in the society". With a Book of Elements, a solid (Gömböc), and a smart phone, Villani demonstrated mathematical reasoning, art and mathematics, as well as mathematical application, respectively, and shared mathematicians' understanding of mathematics. Villani pointed out with his own research experience that mathematicians need grit, imagination and rigor. Rigor ranked behind imagination and grit, highlighting the importance of passion and persistence in mathematical research.
In addition, the branch of mathematics education of the Chinese Mathematical Society announced its establishment and held its inaugural meeting during the congress. This indicated that the Chinese Mathematical Society will establish closer ties with the International Mathematics Union and the International Commission on Mathematical Instruction, which will promote the development of mathematics education, strengthen the cooperation between mathematicians and mathematics educators, promote the exchange with international peers in mathematics education, and prosper China's mathematics education and the cultivation of mathematics talents. It has great significance and far-reaching impact.
Fourthly, many Chinese scholars took the podium of various activities of the congress, spreading the excellent tradition and experience of Chinese mathematics education, and shared their research results rooted in China. Gu Lingyuan, distinguished professor of East China Normal University and former vice president of Shanghai Academy of Educational Sciences, was invited to give a plenary lecture. It is 41 years since Hua Luogeng, a famous mathematician in China who gave a plenary lecture at ICME-4 in 1980, that finally another Chinese scholar again took the podium of the plenary lecture. Professor Gu Lingyuan reported a 45-year experimental project of mathematics teaching reform. This experimental project was divided into three main stages: improving the quality in a large area (1977-1992), breaking through the cognitive bottleneck (1992-2007), and promoting exploration and creation (2007-2022), witnessing more than 40 years of Chinese society from reform and opening up to educational modernization. In addition, many Chinese scholars have stepped onto the forum of invited lectures, TSGs, discussion groups, workshops, and other academic activities, and the total number of Chinese speakers was the highest in history.
Furthermore, there were a total of 13 Thematic Afternoon (TA) activities presenting research and practice in mathematics education with Chinese characteristics. The 13 TA activities were organized by the Chinese mathematical society, the middle school mathematics teaching professional committee of the Chinese Society of Education, the primary school mathematics teaching professional committee of the Chinese Society of Education, the Shanghai Institute of intelligent education of East China Normal University, the mathematics division of Beijing Normal University Press, the national senior high school mathematics curriculum standard revision group and the national compulsory education mathematics curriculum standard revision group, Jiangsu Academy of Educational Sciences, the teaching and Research Office of Zhejiang Provincial Department of education, Qingpu Experimental Research Institute, southwest basic education curriculum research center of the Ministry of Education, Shanghai high school, Hong Kong NeoUnion ESC Organization Limited, etc. The topics of the TA activities included mathematics curriculum and teaching materials in primary and secondary schools, mathematics classroom teaching in primary and secondary schools, learning and development of mathematics teachers, mathematics intelligence education, reform and development of mathematics curriculum and teaching for ethnic minorities, the impact of the pandemic on mathematics teaching and learning, and mathematical modeling, showing the characteristics and experience of Chinese mathematics education from different themes and perspectives.
The Symphony Orchestra of East China Normal University presented a wonderful symphony concert for ICME-14.
Although ICME-14 has been successfully concluded, the exploration on the research and practice of mathematics education in China is always ongoing.