ICMI NEWSLETTER JULY 2014
Editors : Abraham Arcavi (ICMI Secretary General) Cheryl E. Praeger (ICMI Vice President)
Email addresses : ICMI_Secretary-General@mathunion.org
Graphic Design : Lena Koch (ICMI Administrator)
July 1, 2014
CONTENTS 1. Editorial – From the desk of Catherine Vistro-Yu, Member-at-Large, ICMI Executive Committee.
2. Emma Castelnuovo, In Memoriam.
3. ICMI Study 23
4. CANP, Tanzania
5. Meeting of the ICMI EC
6. A request for the archives
7. Pipeline Project : Current Status 2014
8. Unpublished issues of the ICMI Bulletin
9. Have you read ?
1. EDITORIAL - FROM THE DESK OF CATHERINE VISTRO-YU, MEMBER-AT-LARGE, ICMI
One of my favorite activities in my undergraduate classes is engaging my
students in some question and answer conversation about the lesson of the day,
almost like a mathematical discourse but not quite. With my students in calculus
for instance, discussions of the concepts of limits and derivatives can be
amusing, exciting and instructive. They are amusing because students at first
try to convey their ideas using their own words but in the end repeat what is in
the book or what I say in class. They are exciting because when pushed harder,
students get more involved and later discover that they know more than they
think they do. They just do not know how to say it. More importantly, these
discussions are instructive to me as the teacher because often students reveal
erroneous or limited thinking that needs to be corrected right on the spot or
It is not easy to begin and sustain a mathematical discourse and like most
teachers, I wish I could do it more often and with more success. Discourses can
fall flat and end up merely being shallow discussions, clarifications, or at
worst a brief exchange of questions and one-line answers. My curiosity lies in
what my students truly think and understand, on the other hand my students are
merely interested in knowing the right answers to my questions. This limited
view of the purpose of mathematical conversations hinders the students’ genuine
engagement in the discussion.
Another difficulty I have in sustaining a mathematical discourse relates to
culture. Although my students mostly come from high performing secondary
schools, they find mathematical conversations uncomfortable. They are afraid to
share their thoughts in class for fear of being ridiculed by classmates or the
teacher. I also find that many of my students are simply not used to genuine
exchanges of ideas. They end up wanting to argue, debate and eventually win
(have the last say) or they simply clam up and submit to my thoughts.
It is largely for this last reason that a Topic Study Group on Quality Use of
Language and Discourse in Mathematics is included in the 7th ICMI-East Asian
Conference on Mathematical Education (EARCOME 7). The topic is novel and it is a
unique challenge for East Asian mathematics classrooms.
I invite all of you to come join us in Cebu, Philippines on May 11-15, 2015 for
this exciting conference. With the theme, Quality Mathematics Education for
All the scientific program is full with plenary lectures, parallel sessions and
a poster session. Do check out our website http://www.earcome7.weebly.com for
more information and conference updates. I hope to see many of you there next
Meanwhile, please enjoy this edition of the ICMI Newsletter.
2. EMMA CASTELNUOVO, IN MEMORIAM
Shortly after ICMI announced the launching of the award in her name (see the
March issue of the ICMI News), Emma Castelnuovo passed away on April 13th, 2014
at the age of 100 years and four months. She was born in Rome in December 1913
to the mathematician Guido Castelnuovo (1865-1952) and to Elbina Enriques,
sister of the mathematician Federigo Enriques. After graduating in mathematics
in 1936, she worked as librarian in the Institute of Mathematics at the
University of Rome. Between 1939 and 1943 and due to the Italian racial laws
(leggi razziali) she could only find work as a teacher in a Jewish school. In
1943, the family fled the Nazi roundups taking refuge with friends, in
hospitals, and in religious institutions. After the war she taught mathematics
in the Torquato Tasso secondary school in Rome and worked intensively with
fellow teachers to rethink and renovate teaching methods. She published several
books among them Geometria Intuitiva (which was very popular also in Spain in
its Spanish version), Didattica della matematica and La matematica nella
realtà (Mathematics in the real world).
In her books, Emma Castelnuovo wrote that a main objective is to awaken the
intuition, the interest of the students in the subject and their taste for
research through the observation of facts, techniques and fundamental properties
of geometric figures. She believed that intuition, interest and taste are not
innate, but rather they develop when students participate in creative work.
Teachers need to stimulate the natural and instinctive curiosity of students, to
lead them through the discovery of mathematical truths, to convey the idea of
doing mathematics by themselves and to instill the feel for the need for a
progressive logical reasoning.
Her work on didactics of mathematics was very influential in several countries.
The announcement and the call for nominations for the Emma Castelnuovo award can
be found at
3. ICMI STUDY 23
The Discussion Document for the ICMI Study 23 on Primary Mathematics Study on
Whole Numbers is now published and it includes a call for papers for the Study
Conference to be held in Macau, June 3-7, 2015. The Discussion Document can be
4. CANP TANZANIA
CANP (Capacity and Networking Project) was launched some four years ago by the
international bodies of mathematicians and mathematics educators (International
Mathematical Union, IMU & International Commission on Mathematical Instruction,
ICMI) in conjunction with UNESCO and International Congress of Industrial and
Applied Mathematics, ICIAM. The project is a response to Current Challenges in
Basic Mathematics Education (UNESCO, 2011).
CANP aims to enhance mathematics education at all levels in developing countries
so that their people are capable of meeting the challenges these countries face.
It seeks to enhance the educational capacity of those responsible for the
preparation and development of mathematics teachers, and to create sustained and
effective regional networks of teachers, mathematics educators and
mathematicians, with strong links to the international community. Three CANP
conferences were already held in different parts of the world and their success
is shown by their satisfaction of the participants and by the establishment of
many follow-up activities. The upcoming CANP meeting will take place in Dar-es
Salam, Tanzania, in September 1-12, 2014 and will gather about 45 participants
from East African countries. For more details, see
5. MEETING OF THE ICMI EC
The Executive Committee (EC) of ICMI held its second annual meeting in Rio de
Janeiro, Brazil, on April 22-24, 2014. The topics discussed included the
launching of future ICMI studies, future CANP conferences, future ICME
conferences and fundraising. The EC is open to suggestions and comments from all
country representatives and from any member of the community. These may be
submitted to any member of the EC.
6. A REQUEST FOR THE ARCHIVES
The first International Congress on Mathematical Education was held in Lyon,
France on August 24-30, 1969. The Proceedings (286 pages) were published by
Reidel Publishing Company. ICMI will be grateful to receive as a donation a copy
of the Proceedings for its Archive. For that purpose, please contact Bernard
Hodgson, at Bernard.Hodgson@mat.ulaval.ca
7. PIPELINE PROJECT : CURRENT STATUS 2014
The "Pipeline" Project is a study about the supply and demand for mathematics
students and personnel in educational institutions and the workplace. In 2010,
at ICM in Hyderabad, India, the Pipeline Project presented its final report. In
the following year, all the data was archived on the ICMI website under
Activities. At that time, a notice appeared in the ICMI Newsletter advertising
the availability of the data, and inviting researchers to use it, and also
inviting anyone interested to take responsibility for developing the data for
other countries and/or keeping existing data up to date.
We reiterate our call for researchers to add to, and use, the data from the
It is possible to restate the main outcomes of the Pipeline Project, noting
again that the data gathered was restricted to a small number of countries.
Process : The collection of time-series data on the numbers of students
studying mathematical sciences at different levels, or the number of teachers
with different mathematical qualifications, is much more difficult than
anticipated. There are many reasons : the data is collected by many different
organisations, even within one country ; the data categories do not stay stable
over time as educational organisational structures and assessment systems change
regularly ; data categories are not well-defined ; and the data categories are not
equivalent across different nations.
Conclusion : While there is cause for concern within particular countries
about a decline or lack of growth in the numbers of mathematical science
students and/or mathematics teachers at different levels, globally the numbers
in both categories are probably climbing.
Conclusion : In some countries, if not all, the demand for mathematically
educated people in the workforce is growing faster than any growth in numbers
coming through the Pipeline. (It is possible that this divergence is the cause
of the concern about an apparently declining Pipeline). The cause of the fast
growth in demand is the particular demands of both IT and Financial sectors of
the workplace market.
For more information and for access to the data from different countries, see
8. UNPUBLISHED ISSUES OF THE ICMI BULLETIN
As previously announced, the publication of the ICMI Bulleting was discontinued.
Its functions will be covered by the ICMI News, the ICMI website, and ICMI
Facebook. A section was especially created within the website to collect the
papers from previous unpublished issues, which are gradually beginning to appear
thanks to the efforts of Bernard Hodgson, former editor of the Bulletin, with
the help of Lena Koch, ICMI administrator. For the papers which were already
uploaded, please see the section Have you read ? below.
9. HAVE YOU READ ?
A Practical and Theoretical Agenda for Progress in Mathematics Education –
This paper describes an agenda for action and its challenges aimed at supporting
children’s development of the ability to engage in sense-making in and with
mathematics, a deeper understanding of mathematical ideas, the ability to use
mathematical ideas productively in solving problems, and a more positive view
both of mathematics and of themselves as sense-makers in mathematics. The paper
can be found at
The role of professional associations in mathematics education - Corinne Hahn,
Will Morony and Tomas Recio.
This paper deals with the following questions : How do the different groups see
their roles ? How do they undertake their work ? What, in particular, is their
role in relation to educational reform ? To what extent do the different groups
(mathematicians, mathematics teachers and mathematics education researchers)
collaborate ? Should the relations between associations be strengthened ? Is there
a new role for associations in the context of the current global trend for
evaluation of performance through PISA, TIMSS, etc. ? Would it be desirable to
establish a world federation of mathematics teacher associations to help respond
to this and other global trends and issues ? The paper can be found at
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