[ICMI-News] ICMI News 5: August 2008

Jaime Carvalho e Silva jaimecs at mat.uc.pt
Mon Sep 1 23:37:13 CEST 2008

ICMI News 5: August 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: Yes, it was worth it!
2. Impressions of ICME-11 (1)
3. Impressions of ICME-11 (2)
4. Impressions of ICME-11 (3)
5. New Executive Committee of ICMI for 2010-2012
6. The Proceedings of ICME-10 have now been published
7. WFMC welcomes you!
8. PUBLIMATH - Bibliographical database on mathematics education
9. The 1000th subscriber to ICMI News
10.  Calendar of Events of Interest to the ICMI Community
11.  Historical vignettes:  The unexpected fate of a mathematics curriculum
12.  Subscribing to ICMI News


1.  Editorial: Yes, it was worth it!

A Congress like ICME-11 takes at least four years 
to organize; the budget you need to get is huge, 
you need to coordinate more than 500 organizers 
and collaborators, you need to balance a program 
with more than 500 sessions (and you are not sure 
all sessions are worth it), the bureaucratic 
problems involved are sometimes frightening. In 
brief:  you are sure to get hundreds of 
headaches. Some people say that to organize such 
a huge congress is not worth it. I say it is 
worth it, and ICME-11 was worth it. We had very 
good 9 plenary activities of a quite diverse 
nature, 7 survey teams presenting interesting new 
perspectives on very different topics, we had 
around 50 regular lectures on a huge array of 
themes, there were more than 60 groups to present 
and discuss ideas and projects. The International 
Program Committee carefully choose proposals that 
offered interesting choices, and the quality of 
most of the speakers was obvious. Only in a big 
congress like this you have the opportunity to 
listen to talks and participate in workshops in 
such a big number of different themes, with 
people from very different parts of the world 
speaking about different aspects of research, 
personal or national experiences or projects. The 
diversity of offerings is a big plus.

But the most important aspect was the impact on 
Latin America. When an ICME congress is organized 
somewhere you are sure that the people in the 
region will benefit most and this was no 
exception. We had 392 participants from Latin 
American countries when in ICME-10 they were only 
72. Even if you subtract the Mexican participants 
(164) you still get more participants in ICME-11 
from Latin American countries (228) than in 
ICME-10. We had participants from 16 different 
countries in Latin America:  Argentina, Brazil, 
Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, El 
Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, 
Peru, Puerto Rico, Uruguay, Venezuela. We need 
surely to find ways to get even more countries 
involved, but this was a good number.

If you add to this the fact that there was also 
an Ibero American Program in Spanish inside 
ICME-11, you see that this kind of offering and 
opportunity is unique. Of course it can be 
improved. The problem of the language is still 
not at all solved. It is true that English is the 
language for international contacts, but a lot of 
people do not feel comfortable enough to discuss 
educational topics in English. In a presentation 
you can always have your slides in English but in 
a discussion things are more difficult. This must 
be discussed carefully. A nice example connected 
to this issue was the final presentation by 
Bernard Hodgson where he mixed written slides and 
oral presentation in several different languages.

As a final remark I want to present you the list 
of the countries with 20 or more registrations. 
This is an interesting list because it shows the 
enormous diversity of the countries of origin of 
most of the participants:

Argentina: 31, Australia: 75, Brazil: 126, 
Canada: 68, China: 154, Denmark: 35, France: 53, 
Germany: 44, Israel: 22, Italy: 41, Japan: 73, 
Mexico: 164, New Zealand: 27, Norway: 20, 
Portugal: 51, Singapore: 27, South Africa: 36, 
South Korea: 39, Spain: 45, Sweden: 64, United 
Kingdom: 92, United States: 412

I have great expectations for ICME-12. I hope we will all meet there.

Jaime Carvalho e Silva, Member-at-large EC ICMI, jaimecs at mat.uc.pt

PS - We have reached 1000 subscribers of our 
email newsletter. Please keep spreading 
information about our newsletter so that we reach 
as many people as possible.


2.  Impressions of ICME-11 (1)

There are two people that attended all the ICME 
congresses starting with the first one. They are 
known as "old hands": Jerry Becker (USA) and 
Claude Gaulin (Canada). Jerry Becker gave us his 
impression about this 11th ICME.


The program was rich, varied and presented much 
from which to choose. In my judgment, it was an 
excellent congress and, for me, it ranks among 
the very best [and I have participated in all of 
them]. Several years ago Alan Schoenfeld gave a 
talk which he concluded with a moral, namely, two 
theorems: 1. Mathematics is a living, breathing 
and exciting discipline of sense-making. 2. 
Mathematics students will come to see it that way 
if and only if they experience it that way in 
their classrooms. A corollary is that virtually 
all standard classroom instruction needs to be 
enhanced, or replaced, by instruction in which 
students grapple with challenging mathematics in 
intellectually honest ways. This is the frame I 
carry with me to conferences such as the ICMEs, 
from which to learn. In addition to the 
plenaries, I was able to select numerous 
interesting sessions [and thereby had to 
eliminate numerous others] that nicely fit 
around/into that frame: e.g., the Chinese 
national presentation and printed materials, the 
session on Japanese national assessment [Shizumi 
Shimizu], the teacher as producer of knowledge 
[Patricia Sadovsky], the professional development 
of teacher educators [Jan van Maanen], assessment 
must be formative [Peter Nystrom] and others. 
There were other sessions, such as those in my 
DG, in which the knowledge of the teacher was 
emphasized as crucial in understanding elementary 
students' work -- e.g.,  (1) 9 x 8 = 9 x (11 -8) 
= 9 x 3 = 27 = 72; (2) 4.8 - 6.2 = (.8 - .2) + (4 
- 6) = -2.6 = -2 + .6 = -1.4. The sessions of my 
TSG were also valuable. I was happy to witness 
the work of outstanding scholars being recognized 
in the Freudenthal and Klein awards and to engage 
in light conversation or give-and-take during the 
receptions (with excellent snacks and 
refreshments). Conferees were delighted with the 
cultural program, their excursions, the transport 
to and from the university, the large cadre of 
young, friendly and helpful students 
(everywhere!) and it was wonderful to enjoy 
Mexican foods, including along the magnificent 
downtown river walk. In the Final Program book, 
Marcela Santillan, Carlos Signoret and Aljandro 
Diaz Barriga thanked us for coming ... and we 
need to thank them and their colleagues for 
organizing and implementing an outstanding 
congress that was both highly enjoyable and 
productive, and for having us in their homeland, 
as well. Now I look forward to the ICME-11 
proceedings and to ICME-12 in Korea.

Jerry P. Becker, Dept. of Curriculum & 
Instruction, Southern Illinois University, 
Carbondale, IL, USA,  jbecker at siu.edu.


3.  Impressions of ICME-11 (2)

We asked two of the four educators that received 
ICMI Medals at ICME-11 to give us their 
impressions of ICME-11, the Felix Klein medalist 
for 2007, Jeremy Kilpatrick, University of 
Georgia, Athens, GA, USA and the Felix Klein 
medalist for 2005, Ubiratan D'Ambrosio, 
Universidade de São Paulo, Brasil.

Impressions of ICME-11, by Jeremy Kilpatrick

The 11th International Congress on Mathematical 
Education (ICME-11) was very much like all the 
others I've attended-teeming, sprawling, 
innovative, eclectic, diverse, uneven, rewarding, 
intense, exhausting-but probably because it was 
the first ICME in a Latin American country, it 
was also lively, vibrant, and colorful.  The 
people at the venue, the Universidad Autónoma de 
Nuevo León, and in particular the many student 
guides, could not have been more helpful. 
Moreover, although I had heard that Monterrey was 
an ordinary industrialized city that could just 
as easily be north of the Rio Grande, it was 
nothing like I expected.  Located in a valley 
surrounded by ruggedly beautiful mountains, the 
city has a modern subway system, squares and 
parks filled with sculpture, a lively downtown 
scene, and many first-rate museums.  It may not 
be Guadalajara or Guanajuato, but it's not 
Galveston or Gary either.
As to the sessions at the congress itself, I very 
much enjoyed those I attended, particularly the 
plenary activities and regular lectures.  There 
were numerous lectures that I heard good things 
about but could not attend because so many were 
scheduled at the same time.  I especially enjoyed 
the sessions at which the survey teams reported. 
Survey teams as a congress feature were begun at 
ICME 10, where there were five teams.  For 
ICME-11, there were seven-all on new topics. 
These teams have performed a very useful service 
to the field, giving a more comprehensive picture 
of developments in different countries than any 
one speaker could offer.
I had the privilege of chairing the nominations 
committee for the 2010-2012 Executive Committee 
(EC) of the International Commission on 
Mathematical Instruction (ICMI), and at the ICMI 
General Assembly in Monterrey, I presented the 
slate of nominees and announced the results.  It 
was a historic occasion.  Previous EC members had 
been chosen by the General Assembly of the 
International Mathematical Union, and this was 
the first time that the ICMI chose its own 
officers.  Special appreciation for this peaceful 
revolution is due the recent ICMI EC members, and 
especially presidents Hyman Bass and Michèle 
Artigue and secretary-general Bernard Hodgson, 
for their efforts to help make ICMI a more 
self-governing organization.

Personnal Reflections on ICME-11, by Ubiratan D'Ambrosio

It is difficult to say something about ICME-11, 
other than the usual congratulations to the 
organizers, without mentioning my personal 
I have attended all the ICMEs, since 1976. It has 
always been very rewarding to meet friends, to 
listen and to learn about new progresses in 
mathematics education, and to have the 
opportunity of telling about my ideas and to 
benefit from critics.
ICME-11, in Monterrey, was not different, but 
with some additional emotional features. It was 
in Latin America. I felt at home, and I am sure 
this was the feeling of all my colleagues from 
other Latin America countries. And I received the 
Felix Klein Medal.
This activated my memories of Karlsruhe, 32 years 
ago, and of Adelaide, 24 years ago. In ICME 3 I 
was courageous to propose that reflections about 
"why teach mathematics?" should emphasize history 
and sociology. In ICME 5 I was even more 
courageously when I presented Ethnomathematics. 
The reactions, in both occasions, were mixed, 
from completely ignoring my talk to heavy 
criticism to my proposals. The Felix Klein Award 
reassured me that Mathematics and Society and 
Mathematics and Culture, specifically 
Ethnomathematics, are important research areas in 
Mathematics Education. The feeling of having 
contributed to the advancement of these areas is 
indeed rewarding.
As a personal feeling, I must confess how good I 
felt when colleagues, both established 
professionals and younger people in the beginning 
of their career, valued being in a picture with 
me. I think it is not vain vanity to feel honored 
when colleagues from Latin America, and also from 
the entire World, asked me to pose for a picture 
with them.
This made me reflect about the value of 
organizing such big congresses as ICMEs. I am 
aware that many mathematics educators are critic 
of ICMEs. The number of participants is very 
large, with many beginners and without important 
contributions to the area. Established 
mathematics educators claim that the opportunity 
to share ideas with colleagues is minor. Indeed, 
I met only once, in a rush, some colleagues with 
whom I had much to discuss. Indeed, compared with 
a meeting like the recent 100 years of ICMI, in 
Rome, ICMEs are academically less attractive. But 
the benefit for the younger teachers, from all 
over the World, with so many doubts, questions 
and much professional hopes and dreams, amply 
justify the investment, in time and resources, in 
ICMEs. The stimulus resulting from shacking hands 
and taking a picture with the real researchers, 
which are the authors of many papers and books 
they read, is a lifetime experience. I remember 
when, in the sixties I went to my first ICMs. To 
meet personally some of the intellectual mentors 
of my research was an unforgettable experience. 
I disagree with colleagues, established 
researchers, who claim that going to ICMEs is not 
a worthwhile academic challenge. Academically, I 
gained much in ICME-11, as in other ICMEs. I was 
surprised with the amazing presence of technology 
in mathematics education. Technology is 
absolutely integrated in the actions of the 
younger generation. Indeed, it is part of their 
everyday-life. Also, I was happy to see that 
mathematics educators are increasingly concerned 
with the role of mathematics education in facing 
the challenges and issues of the 21st century. 
More than improving the teaching of traditional 
contents, there was a feeling that the mission of 
mathematics educators is to prepare students to 
be able to face the challenges and solve the 
issues of the 21st century, educating students in 
the various academic disciplines, language, 
science, social science and mathematics through a 
cultural history context and an interdisciplinary 
approach to instruction. I find myself totally 
identified with this new trend, although 
sometimes it is difficult to keep pace with the 
amazing technological innovations.
Indeed, participating in ICME-11 was a very rewarding experience.


4.  Impressions of ICME-11 (3)

We asked two first timers to ICMEs to give us 
their impressions of coming to ICME-11: Ajit 
Kumar, from the Department of Applied 
Mathematics, Institute of Chemical Technology, 
University of Mumbai, India and David F Hervas, 
Departamento de Matemáticas, Universidad San 
Francisco de Quito, Quito - Ecuador who was also 
the representative from Ecuador in the ICMI 
General Assembly.

First timer: Ajit Kumar, UICT, Mumbai, India, ajit72 at gmail.com

I attended the ICME for the first time and it was 
really a wonderful experience for me. I was 
really astonished to see the intensity and 
enormity of the event. Academically, it was very 
well organized and structured properly. Most of 
the regular lectures were quite good, though 
there is a room of improvements. This congress 
gives a platform for people from different 
countries to meet, discuss and exchange their 
ideas. In this regards, TDG's and DG's are really 
wonderful and most important activities of the 
conference. At least, I benefited a lot from two 
activities.  There were so many good and 
interesting talks/topics at the same time that it 
was difficult to decide which one to skip. In my 
opinion there should have been more stalls of 
different mathematical models and school/college 
kids from the host country should be invited to 
have look at them. The local organizing committee 
should encourage such activities. Bringing out 
ICMI news bulletin is a wonderful idea and it 
should have been done long back. ICME proceeding 
should also be brought out as soon as possible so 
that many people who could not attend the 
conference will have access to its contents. I 
also believe that there should be more 
participation of working mathematicians in the 
congress so that one can have healthy interaction 
between the math educators and mathematicians. 
This will help in improving the standards of 
mathematics education at large. I was also very 
impressed to see the booklet on "Mathematics 
Education in United States", which was 
distributed to the participants. I think, more 
countries can follow this suit, so that others 
can learn from them. Monterrey with its rich 
infrastructure and natural beauty was a good 
choice to hold the ICME-11 and we must 
congratulate the IPC for their choice. The local 
arrangements were quite good, but still there was 
some room of improvements, especially 
communication was little poor.  Thus as a first 
timer in ICME, I can say that it was very 
fruitful and enjoyable and hope this is just a 
beginning for me.

First timer:  David F Hervas, Universidad San 
Francisco de Quito, Quito - Ecuador, 
dhervas at usfq.edu.ec

A few words about my wonderful experience attending ICMI GA and ICME-11

My name is David Hervas.  I am a mathematician 
from Ecuador involved in teaching at Universidad 
San Francisco de Quito, a small and wonderful 
Liberal Arts College.  I am deeply concerned 
about the current status of the teaching of 
mathematics in public schools in my country which 
is in a very bad shape in need of help.  My 
compromise with teaching and learning of 
mathematics lead me to know and learn about ICMI 
and ICME.  I was happy to get an invitation to 
come for the first time to a general assembly of 
ICMI as a representative from my country. 
Ecuador was admitted as an associate member of 
IMU in 2006 and we are trying to give shape to 
our mathematical environment so that we can 
acquire full membership in the next six to eight 
years.  I didn't know exactly what to expect in 
this general assembly and I had a slightly better 
idea about ICME since I have been in a few math 
conferences before but never in such a big one. 
I showed up in the meeting room a few minutes 
earlier just to see and get acquainted with the 
environment.  I could sense immediately that the 
air was full of friendship and curiosity since 
all of us came from different countries.  I felt 
very welcome and I thank the ICMI EC and all the 
participants who helped me to overcome my shyness 
for such event.  Along the day and the week I 
thought I was attending a festival about 
brotherhood of the human race through 
mathematics.  I was so inspired for so many 
people I met but I prefer not to mention names 
because I don't want to leave anybody out.  I 
just want to share that I was overwhelmed to be 
there present when Ubiratan D'Ambrosio received 
The Felix Klein Medal.  I may have forgotten his 
words but his ideas are still in the air through 
his question "How Mathematics Education can help 
in shaping a better World?"
I was excited to learn about The ICMI Studies and 
the new projects lunched by ICMI.  I learnt so 
much and I feel fascinated that 100 years ago 
Felix Klein was the first president of ICMI and 
now his famous book wants to take a different 
shape through a new project for the 21st century.
Just to keep it short I want to thank Bernard 
Hodgson and Carlos Signoret who made my 
participation possible and Jaime Carvalho e Silva 
who asked me to write a few lines about my 
experience in Monterrey, México. 


5. New Executive Committee of ICMI for 2010-2012

A new Executive Committee of the 
ICMI-International Commission on Mathematical 
Instruction, was elected at the ICMI General 
Assembly held July 6 in Monterrey, México.
ICMI is an official commission of IMU and till 
now the election was held at the General 
Assemblies of IMU. It was the first time that the 
ICMI General Assembly elected the Executive 
Committee of ICMI; this was decided by the IMU 
General Assembly held in Santiago de Compostela, 
August 12-13, 2006.
The procedure for the elections began with the 
creation of a Nominating Committee, chosen 
according to the regulations adopted by the same 
IMU General Assembly of Santiago de Compostela:
The ICMI Nominating Committee was chaired by 
Jeremy Kilpatrick (USA) and included also Michèle 
Artigue (France), László Lovász (Hungary), Attia 
Ashour (Egypt), Lee Peng Yee (Singapore), Elon 
Lima (Brazil) and Evgenia Sendova (Bulgaria).
The slate proposed to the General Assembly 
included one candidate for each of the officers 
and seven candidates for Members at large. The 
ICMI General Assembly could propose other 
candidates under certain conditions described in 
the regulations.
The members of the 2010-2012 ICMI EC, with the 
various positions held, according to the results 
of the elections, are:

William (Bill) Barton (New Zealand)
Jaime Carvalho e Silva (Portugal)
Mina Teicher (Israel)
Angel Ruiz (Costa Rica)
Mariolina Bartolini Bussi (Italy)
Sung Je Cho (Korea)
Roger Howe (USA)
Renuka Vithal (South Africa)
Zhang Yingbo (China)

The term of this next EC will start on January 1, 2010.


6. The Proceedings of ICME-10 have now been published

It was announced by the organizers, Elin Emborg, 
Morten Blomhøj, Henrik Nielsen, and Mogens Niss, 
that the Proceedings of ICME-10 have finally been 
completed. It consists of a book and a CD. Every 
registered participant in ICME-10 is entitled to 
receive a printed copy of the Proceedings, 
including the CD. Moreover, the entire 
Proceedings are available on the web at 

The 559 pages book contains texts of
* the Opening and Closing Ceremonies,
* the eight Plenary Activities, including the 
Plenary Lectures delivered at the Congress,
* the lectures based on the work of the five so-called Survey Teams,
* lectures by the first two recipients of the ICMI Awards
- the Felix Klein Medal (Guy Brousseau)
- the Hans Freudenthal Medal (Celia Hoyles),
* reports of the five themes of the so-called Thematic Afternoon,
* reports of the 29 Topic Study Groups and
* reports of the 24 Discussion Groups

The CD contains the ICME-10 Proceedings as a single file and as separate files.
Furthermore, the CD also contains 64 papers based on 64 of the 74
Regular Lectures given at ICME-10.

As quite some time has passed since the post 
address of the participants was registered, and 
as no one would benefit from the organizers 
sending the Proceedings to a wrong address, every 
ICME-10 participant is asked to notify the 
organizers of the post address to which he or she 
prefers a copy of the Proceedings be sent (also 
if it hasn't changed since ICME-10).

This is a prerequisite for receiving the printed version cum CD.

The post address should be entered in the form 
that you find at the web page 

Please expect three to four weeks for delivery. 
The service of sending out printed copies of the 
proceedings would be running until November 1, so 
please make your request before this date.

ICME-10 Congress Secretariat
Congress Consultants
Martensens Allé 8
DK-1828 Frederiksberg C

Tel: +45 70 20 03 05
Fax: +45 70 20 03 15
Mail: congress at congress-consult.com
Web: http://www.congress-consult.com


7. WFMC welcomes you!

World Federation of National Mathematics Competitions
An Affiliated Study Group of the International 
Commission on Mathematical Instruction

The World Federation of National Mathematics 
Competitions (WFNMC) appeared as a natural 
response to the need of international 
collaboration in the field of Mathematics 
Competitions and other related activities. It was 
initiated by Peter O'Halloran and officially 
founded in 1984 during the fifth International 
Congress on Mathematical Education (ICME 5) held 
in Adelaide, Australia. WFNMC became an 
Affiliated Study Group of  ICMI in 1994. The 
major activities of the Federation are:
o	Regular conduction  of  a Conference 
(every even-numbered year after ICME);
o	Recognition (trough the Federation Award 
"Paul Erdös") of persons with outstanding 
achievements in detection, motivation and 
development of mathematically talented young 
people. The Paul Erdös Award is given every even 
numbered year.
o	Publication (twice yearly) of the Journal 
"Mathematics Competitions" and continuous 
development and maintenance of the web-site of 
the Federation;
o	Participation in activities initiated and 
supported by other organizations;
o	Participation in Discussion Groups and Topic Study Groups at ICME's.

WFNMC operates on the basis of a Constitution 
which was first accepted in 1996 and slightly 
amended in 2004 and 2008. The name of the 
Federation leaves the impression that its major 
goals are related to competitions only. To some 
extent, this might have been the case in the 
earlier stages of development of the Federation. 
Today its activities are in accordance with the 
"Policy  Statement on Competitions and 
Mathematics Education" approved in 2002:
"The scope of activities of interest to the 
WFNMC, although centered on competitions for 
students of all levels (primary, secondary and 
tertiary), is much broader than the competitions 
themselves. The WFNMC aims to provide a vehicle 
for educators to exchange information on a number 
of activities related to mathematics and 
mathematics learning.
More information about the history of the 
Federation, its activities, its Executive Bodies 
and officers could be obtained from the official 
site of the organization:

Petar S. Kenderov, Institute of Mathematics and 
Informatics, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, 
vorednek at yahoo.com


8. PUBLIMATH - Bibliographical database on mathematics education


PUBLIMATH is a bibliographical database for 
mathematics teaching written in French, which has 
been developed by the APMEP (French association 
of mathematics teachers) and the ADIREM 
(committee of the directors of IREMs  that are 
Institutes of Research into Mathematics Teaching. 
The development started in 1996, with the support 
of the CFEM (French commission on Mathematics 
Education) and of the ARDM (Association for 
research in mathematics didactics).
Access to PUBLIMATH on Internet is free and 
PUBLIMATH offers a set of short reviews about 
publications related to mathematics teaching, 
which can be useful for teachers from nursery 
school to university, for students, teachers, 
teacher educators and researchers, research 

PUBLIMATH is half way between a classical 
documentary base (author, title and library 
information conforming to international 
cataloguing standards) and a base of contents 
with on-line information. The specificities and 
major assets of PUBLIMATH are, on the one hand 
the informative summary, and on the other hand 
the keywords or key sentences. The summaries, 
keywords and key sentences are written and chosen 
by field specialists.
PUBLIMATH offers notes about various publications 
(books, software, papers from scientific 
journals, videos, websites, etc.). The review of 
each publication contains an analysis carried out 
by members of all contributing associations.
PUBLIMATH also allows users to discover documents 
that cannot be found in the usual editing 
networks, about various fields: teaching, 
didactics, history, culture, arts and 

PUBLIMATH allows users to consult
- the contents of scientific journals: Bulletin 
Vert de l’APMEP, Repères-IREM, l’Ouvert, Petit 
Vert, Hypercube, Grand N, Petit x, RDM, 
Mathématiques et Pédagogie, etc.;
- references to books and papers linked to one or more keywords of the base;
- the list of publications of IREMs or inter-IREM 
committees, of the APMEP, of the ARDM...
PUBLIMATH includes more than 8,600 forms (since 
the end of July 2008). Further information in 
English, German, Portuguese, Italian or Spanish 
is added to some notes.
PUBLIMATH offers access to a glossary (721 
definitions in May 2008). These definitions can 
be consulted from the general keywords or key 
sentences list, from a specific alphabetical list 
or using fields (17 fields have been listed).

Michèle Bechler, responsable CII-APMEP PUBLIMATH, 
Michele.Bechler at ac-nancy-metz.fr


9. The 1000th subscriber to ICMI News

Charlotte Bouckaert was the 1000th person to 
subscribe to the ICMI newsletter, ICMI News. So 
we asked her some questions to know a little bit 
more about this 1000th subscriber.

Where are you from?
I am from Belgium. I work at the "Unité de 
Recherche sur l'Enseignement des Mathématiques" 
of the Université Libre de Bruxelles.
I am a secondary school math teacher and teacher 
trainer and I am in charge of the website of our 

How did you hear about ICMI?
I went to the ICME 10 Congress in Copenhagen, 
Denmark, where I heard about ICMI for the first 

Were you in ICME-11 in Monterrey? Do you intend 
to go to ICME-12 in South Korea?
I was not in Monterrey and I don't plan to go to South Korea.
However, I want to publicize the ICME congress among my fellow teachers.
Very few ever heard about it.

What do you expect of ICMI and ICMI News?
I have never seen any ICMI newsletter

Why did you subscribe to ICMI News?
Because I want to inform my fellow teachers of the ICMI publications

How did you hear about ICMI News?
Just by surfing


10. Calendar of Events of Interest to the ICMI Community

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

41st Korean National Meeting of Mathematics Education
Donguei National University, Korea, October 31 - November 1, 2008
<mailto:yhchoe1940 at yahoo.co.kr>yhchoe1940 at yahoo.co.kr

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

3rd international conference to review research 
on Science, TEchnology and Mathematics Education
Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education (TIFR), 
Mumbai, India, January 5-9, 2009

CERME 6: Sixth Conference organised by the 
European Society for Research in Mathematics 
University Lyon 1, France, January 27 - February 1, 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 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>alan at rogerson.pol.pl


11. Historical vignettes: The unexpected fate of a mathematics curriculum

From 1976 until 1994, the Ministry of Education 
of Colombia carried out a long, detailed and 
systematic process of curricular development that 
straddled six presidential periods.
It started with Peace Corps, OAS and Unesco 
advisors in 1976, 13 years after the last change 
in the Country's primary school curriculum in 
The Colombian primary school comprises five 
grades, from 7 to 12 years of age. In a strange 
terminological reversal, the four-year Secondary 
School starts at the 6th grade and the two-year 
Middle School at the 10th. Compulsory basic 
education consists of the 9 grades of Primary and 
Secondary School.
The Ministry of Education asked the National 
University to appoint a Mathematics professor to 
advise the team of teachers and educators in 
charge of designing the new syllabus, of writing 
detailed teachers' handbooks, and of designing 
and conducting teacher training, experimental 
trials and evaluations of the new curriculum.
The initial advisor was Dr. Carlo Federici, an 
Italian mathematician and physicist who had been 
teaching in Colombia since 1948. He retired in 
1978, and I was appointed to succeed him in this 
difficult advisory post. A first draft of the 
syllabus for the first five grades had been 
agreed upon, and pilot experiments and 
evaluations were advancing in
a few schools in each province. It followed the 
then standard format of behavioral Educational 
Technology and Instructional Design.
My first task was to review the draft from a more 
cognitive perspective, inspired mainly by 
Piagetian ideas and authors like Dienes, Papy and 
Labinowicz. After heated discussions with 
critical intellectuals and the National 
Federation of Teachers' Unions, another full 
revision of the draft and a careful spelling out 
of the pedagogical and psychological basis of the 
new curriculum was undertaken.
My second task was to convince the successive 
ministers of education that the new Primary 
School syllabus should not be mandated by decree 
to be implemented in the first five grades 
simultaneously, but to precede the decree with 
widespread teacher training, publication of 
official handbooks by the Ministry and 
corresponding textbooks developed by private 
publishing houses, and then to mandate only 
gradual implementation one grade at a time. 
Fortunately, Decree 1002 of 1984 came out as I 
had suggested, and gradual implementation of the 
Primary School curriculum started.
In 1985-86 I spent a year at the Harvard Graduate 
School of Education, preparing materials for the 
Secondary School curriculum and writing a 
detailed book on the theory of Mathematics 
Education that had provided a foundation for the 
new curriculum. When I came back to Bogota, my 
team developed pilot materials for the four 
grades, from the 6th to the 9th. Test trials for 
those materials were carried out, also grade by 
grade, as well as many teachers' workshops to 
prepare them for the respective decree 
implementing the new Secondary School curriculum.
Test trials were supposed to finish in 1993, to 
officially adopt the Secondary School curriculum 
by a new decree during that year 1994, in order 
to start full implementation in the 6th grade in 
Simultaneously, during those years, a silent and 
well-executed campaign was going on. After a 
drastic change in the Colombian Constitution in 
1991, the more and more powerful National 
Federation of Teachers' Unions and their academic 
advisors started contacting congressmen of both 
Houses to persuade them that a unique central 
curriculum was unconstitutional, antidemocratic 
and discriminatory, and that it would be better 
for Colombian education to grant curricular 
autonomy to every school, encourage it to develop 
its own educational project, and then develop its 
own curriculum according to the particular 
educational project.
The campaign was successful. Colombia became the 
first (and to my knowledge the only) country in 
Latin America to deprive the Ministry of 
Education of its curricular power. Law 115 of 
February 14, 1994, suddenly stopped the long and 
massive-but slow-train of the curriculum reform 
process that had been going on for 18 years, the 
equivalent of two years for each grade, after an 
estimated total cost of 9 million euros. The book 
on the theory of Mathematics Education used as 
the basis of the new curriculum was never 
published, and the full syllabus with its 
detailed teachers' handbooks was never 

Carlos E. Vasco (Universidad Distrital, Bogotá, 
Colombia), Carlos_Vasco at pz.harvard.edu



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