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Dernière modification 01/03/2010 08:45

London, 8-11 April 2010

London, UK 8-11 April 2010

Mathematics as a living, growing discipline /  Les mathématiques: une discipline en pleine croissance

CIEAEM’s contribution to making this explicit /  Le rôle de la CIEAEM pour exposer cette situation

Second Announcement / Deuxième Annonce

Conference Venue Lieu de la rencontre

The Institute of Ismaili Studies 210 Euston Road London NW1 2DA

Conference conveners/ Organisateurs de la rencontre

Honor Williams

Afzal Ahmed

The Mathematics Centre University of Chichester

The conferences and proceedings of CIEAEM over the years provide a rich source of evidence that mathematics and mathematics education are not static subjects which can be neatly defined. As Hans Freudenthal (1978)1 pointed out “But, after all, the global relevance is often historically conditioned. Problems which once stirred up heated discussions can at a later moment in history be disposed of as irrelevant.”

The French phrase, Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose (the more things change, the more they stay the same), may not seem plausible when we know that life is always in a state of flux. The periodic appearance of the `back to basics’ movement in education, in different guises and contexts, to oppose the emergence of the so-called `liberal movement’ of offering pupils and students active involvement and enjoyment in their own learning is a good example, Similarly, the employer and higher education criticisms of pupils who have obtained good examination results not being able to think independently, communicate and make decisions also return at regular intervals. The main attempts to respond to this criticism are manifested in initiatives such as core skills, thinking skills, problem solving skills, functional literacy, creativity, emotional intelligence etc.

It does not take an intensive literature search to uncover that circumstances change and the knowledge base increases but the fundamental ideas about the way human beings learn remain consistent. These ideas have been articulated by philosophers and educationalists such as Socrates, Rousseau, Piaget and Dewey and in various learning theories over a long period. What appear as dramatic social and institutional changes around us are often part of the action-reaction cycle described above and which is bound to continue.

In order to stimulate your thinking we offer you two quotations articulating the role of mathematics in the England and Wales National Curriculum and its shifting emphases

Mathematics provides a way of viewing and making sense of the world. It is used to analyse and communicate information and ideas and to tackle a range of practical tasks and real-life problems. Mathematics also provides the material and means of creating new and imaginative worlds to explore. Through exploration within mathematics itself, new mathematics is created and current ideas are modified and extended. Both in tackling problems and in exploring within the subject itself, mathematics had the capacity not just to describe and explain but also to predict. This gives mathematics the power and pervasiveness that accounts for its importance in the school curriculum. (National Curriculum Council 1989)

Mathematical thinking is important for all members of a modern society as a habit of mind for its use in the workplace, business and finance; and for personal decision-making. Mathematics is fundamental to national prosperity in providing tools for understanding science, engineering, technology and economics. It is essential in public decision-making and for participation in the knowledge economy. Mathematics equips pupils with uniquely powerful ways to describe, analyse and change the world. It can stimulate moments of pleasure and wonder for all pupils when they solve a problem for the first time, discover a more elegant solution, or notice hidden connections. Pupils who are functional in mathematics and financially capable are able to think independently in applied and abstract ways, and can reason, solve problems and assess risk. Mathematics is a creative discipline. The language of mathematics is international. The subject transcends cultural boundaries and its importance is universally recognised. Mathematics has developed over time as a means of solving problems and also for its own sake.
(Department for Children Schools and Families 2007)


The key questions which the conference will attempt to address are:


Question 1

How can the power of mathematics, in contributing towards solving the global economic and environmental crises, be made explicit through mathematics education?

Question 2

What is the role of CIEAEM in influencing the academic and professional courses at undergraduate, postgraduate and school levels to make this power of mathematics explicit?

Question 3

Both through the international comparisons agendas and the recent emphasis on STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), the utilitarian aspect of mathematics has been more prominent. Should CIEAEM contribute actively to ensure that the place of mathematics in the humanities disciplines (for example, history, anthropology, sociology, philosophy …) is not lost?


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