Thursday, July 31, 2008

ICME Day 3

The third day of the ICME started with José Antonio de la Peña’s talk on “Current trends in mathematics”. This seems as an almost impossible topic to cover in one hour, but la Peña had chosen to focus on just a few highlights, and to take a “light” approach. I think this was wise. He also pointed to the Mathematics in the movies site, which features video clips from movies. I’ll check it out…

Next, I heard an excellent talk by Jeremy Kilpatrick titled “A Higher Standpoint”. The point of departure was Felix Klein’s “Elementary Mathematics from a Higher Standpoint”, published in the first decade of the 20th century. Klein’s object was to “bring to the attention of secondary school teachers the significance for their professional work of their academic studies”. He pointed to a “double discontinuity”, whereas the student who goes on from school to higher education, feels that the mathematics is completely different, and at the same time the teacher who has finished his higher education and goes back to school to teach, does not see the connection either. Klein wanted to remedy this by updating the school curriculum and by revising the university instruction to take into account the needs of the school teacher. The talk went on to discuss the books in more detail, and also discussed Pólya and Freudenthal in the connection with Klein’s ideas.

Kilpatrick’s talk made me want to read Klein’s textbooks, which was certainly one of his objects. It also gave lots of food for thought.

At about this time in the conference, there was distributed a leaflet giving information on the 12th ICME, taking place in Seoul July 8th-15th, 2012. I’m already looking forward to it! The website is:

The next thing I attended was the TSG23. Louis Charbonneau talked about “Astronomical and mathematical instruments as pedagogical tools”, putting emphasis on the emotional aspects of being able to touch instruments that have been used to measure heaven and Earth… It was a very interesting and enthusiastic talk. Snezana Lawrence gave the answer to my concluding question in Saturday’s talk (which means I have to update my talk a little…) My question is what we can do to make teachers able to include history of mathematics in their teaching. Lawrence has used history of mathematics as the focus of a teacher development program that seemed very good. I really need to get to know more about this project (and I guess I can find out more on her website,

Liliana Milericich read the paper “The teaching and learning of integral calculus from a historical perspective”, which pointed to some pitfalls in the teaching of integral calculus. As this is not part of what I teach, I didn’t note down particular things that I need to remember from that talk.

Later in the day, I attended the SEG (Sharing Experiences Group) on interactive whiteboards (IWBs). This was incredibly interesting to me, as I’m just starting out in this area, and having written a paper for a conference just before leaving for Mexico. There were lots of interesting thoughts there, and seeing the webpage of these people was also very interesting. Moreover, I was pointed to an interesting conference in Cambridge in June 2009, which I will consider going to.

That ended day 3 of the conference. As day 4 was an excursion day, I will go on with this blog with day 5 later…

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