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ICME-10...Read All About It!

You might remember my previous announcement for the International Congress for Mathematics Education, which occurred in Monterrey, Mexico in July, 2008. This was ICME-11....and it is now history. And, you now have time to get ready for ICME-12, which will be held in Seoul, Korea in the summer of 2012.

While you are waiting, you might browse through the Proceedings for ICME-10, which was held in Denmark. The Proceedings have just been published in the form of a 559-book/CD package, but also have been posted for public-access on the Internet.

By going on-line, you can access all of the plenary papers, summations of Working Groups and Topic Study Groups, as well as a "ton" of interesting papers. I enjoy the papers as they provide a glimpse of mathematics teaching and learning on an international level. Most of the authors are not from the United States, and we have a lot to learn from other countries.

For example, consider this list of sample papers that may sound enticing:

  • Mathematics by Experiment: Plausible Reasoning in the 21st Century by Jonathan Borwein (Canada). A great read but the mathematics is "demanding." Borwein shows you how the doing of mathematics has changed...and argues that this change should be reflected in how mathematics is taught and learned in classrooms.
  • What is Mathematical Literacy? by Tony Gardiner (United Kingdom). A good contrast of knowing mathematics vs mathematical literacy vs. numeracy, etc. I appreciated his Trinity of Obligations.
  • Creating Opportunities for Students to Reinvent Mathematics by Koeno Gravemeijer (Netherlands). A refreshing overview of the current role of constructivism in mathematics classrooms.
  • The Dual Nature of Mathematics by Vagn Lundsgaard Hansen (Denmark). Calls for the symbiosis of the concrete and the abstract in how students experience mathematics in classrooms.
  • Proof, Proving, and the Work of Teachers and Students in Classrooms by Patricio Herbst (United States). An overview (historical and pedagogical) of the roles of proof and reasoning in mathematics classrooms.
  • Stages in the History of Algebra with Implications for Teaching by Victor Katz (United States). Argues that algebra teachers should pay attention to three historical stages (rhetorical, syncopated, and symbolic) as well as four conceptual stages (geometric, equation-solving, function, and abstract).
  • Doing ≠ Construing and Doing + Discussing ≠ Learning: The Importance of the Structure of Attention by John Mason (United Kingdom). If you have never read anything by John Mason, now is a good time to start. He uses examples to stress the importance of both what students are attending to and how they are attending.
  • Teaching Mathematical Concepts: Instruction for Abstraction by Michael Mitchelmore & Paul White (Australia). Documents the importance of understanding what abstraction is and how it can be incorporated into classrooms, especially emperical abstraction.
  • Does the School of the 21st Century Need Geometry? by I.F. Sharygin1 & V. Yu. Protasov (Russia). They ask an important question....and provide an answer that you may or may not agree with....but the important thing is, you reflect on "your answer" to it?
  • Intersections of Mathematics and Art by Vera de Spinadel (Argentina). Interesting examination of the role of mathematics in producing art, via minimal surfaces and sculpture, hyperbolic spaces and tesselations, fractal art and coloring patterns.
  • The “Two Basics” Mathematics Teaching Approach and Open Ended Problem Solving in China by Dianzhou Zhang & Zaiping Dai (China). An interesting overview of how mathematics is taught "with success" in China.
Again, this is just a sample of the wealth of ideas available in the ICME-10 Proceedings. But, these are scholarly papers...if you are used to conference sessions or articles that primarily focus on providing "cute" activities you can do next Monday, the papers may not be value. But at least give them a try!