Monday, July 23, 2007

ESU5 Day 4

Day 4 was a short one, mathematically speaking. After lunch, I joined a guided tour of Prague - on foot. It was an interesting walk, which lastet for four hours. The guide was quite a character, and she spoke several languages - English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Russian as well as Czech, of course. She had strong opinions on many things, and while I don't take her word as the truth on every issue, it was quite entertaining. And of course, it was another chance to talk a little to a few of the conference participants.

The morning sessions were devoted to history of mathematics education, which I must admit is not my favorite subject. I do know that it is good for me to know a little about it, but it does not contribute very much to my main goals: to see how history of mathematics may be taught in primary and secondary school both to give students a better cultural understanding and a better mathematical understanding.

The first hour was by Gert Schubring and Helene Gispert (I'm sorry for not being able to write the French names and words correctly on these keyboards). They talked about the developments in Germany and France in the 20th century. For the next two hours they were joined by Livia Giacardi for a discussion on "The emergence of mathematics as a major teaching subject in secondary schools", with Nikos Kastanis' contribution on the Greek situation being read, as he could not be present. It is indeed interesting to see how wars and the change of borders do influence mathematics teaching in different regions. Maybe the most interesting part of the morning was to see illustration from Nazi era textbooks for childern. Anyone who thinks mathematics cannot have a political dimension, would certainly change their mind after seeing these illustrations...

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