ICMI News 8 : février 2009

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ICMI News 8 : February 2009

A Bimonthly Email Newsletter from the ICMI-International Commission on Mathematical Instruction

Editor : Jaime Carvalho e Silva, Dep. Matematica, Universidade de Coimbra, Portugal

- 1. Editorial : Resources and technology throughout the history of ICMI
- 2. The ICME-12 International Programme Committee
- 3. A new contract for the NISS series
- 4. Special Issue on the History of ICMI published by IJHME
- 5. Calendar of Events of Interest to the ICMI Community
- 6. Historical vignettes : Greenhill, the first vice-president of ICMI
- 7. Subscribing to ICMI News

1. Editorial : Resources and technology throughout the history of ICMI

Besides the ICMI studies which have been presented in a former issues of the Newsletter, from time to time publications appear as milestones in the history of ICMI. In the second half of 2008 two rich volumes have been published :
- The proceedings of ICME10 (Copenhagen, Denmark, 2004),
- The proceedings of the Symposium on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of ICMI.

They have been already mentioned in this Newsletter. The former in ICMI News 5 ; the latter in ICMI News 6.

As happens more and more often today, both volumes are accompanied by rich websites, that are exceptional tools for researchers and can be accessed free from everywhere. Yet, for my generation, the emotion of flipping the pages of a paper book is still worthy.

I shall focus this short note on one particular theme only, well represented in both volumes : resources and technology in mathematics education. In the proceedings of Symposium, one of the working groups was devoted to this issue. In the historical reconstruction, what emerged clearly was that the emphasis on active involvement of students in laboratory activities was one of the leading forces towards the constitution of ICMI. The first president of ICMI, Felix Klein, can be credited with being a pioneer in proposing the use of technology in school. At the time of Klein, ’ancient’ technology were the sole available (e. g. mechanical calculating machines and curve drawing devices, and, even, squared paper to plot experimental data). Today it is more common to refer to Information and Communication Technologies. In the working group, however, both voices were represented, in nearly equal relationship.

In the proceedings of ICME10 (and obviously in the forthcoming ICMI Study 17 on Mathematics Education and Technology-Rethinking the Terrain) the latter voice (ICT) plays the major or the sole role. In both cases what appeared clearly is that no resource or technology, by itself, can make students learn mathematics, as a cultural product of mankind, without the irreplaceable guide of a well prepared teacher. As always, hence, the professional education of teachers of mathematics comes in the foreground.

Main references :

Niss. M. & Emborg E. (eds.), (2008), Proceedings of the 10th International Congress on Mathematical Education, Roskilde (Dk) : IMFUFA. An electronic version is dowloadable from :


The printed version (together with a CDrom with all the regular lectures) costs 50 euros (including shipment). The ordering form is available at the same address.

Menghini M., Furinghetti F., Giacardi L., Arzarello F. (eds.), (2008), The First Century of the International Commission on Mathematical Instruction (1908-2008) : Reflecting and Shaping the World of Mathematics Education, Roma : Istituto della Enciclopedia Italiana.

The book costs 60 euros (reduced price for ICMI people 40 euros, including shipment). The ordering form is available at http://www.unige.ch/math/EnsMath/Rome2008/.

The rich website with the History of ICMI is at http://www.icmihistory.unito.it/.

Mariolina Bartolini Bussi, Member-at-large EC ICMI, mariagiuseppina.bartolini@unimore.it

2. The ICME-12 International Programme Committee

The Executive Committee of ICMI is pleased to announce that it has now completed the appointment of the International Programme Committee (IPC) for ICME-12.

The Committee is composed as follows :

Michèle ARTIGUE (France), ex officio, President of ICMI Évelyne BARBIN (France) Morten BLOMHOEJ (Denmark) Gail BURRILL (USA), Sung Je CHO (Korea), Chair of the IPC Johann ENGELBRECHT (South Africa) Bernard R. HODGSON (Canada), ex officio, Secretary-General of ICMI Gabriele KAISER (Germany) Mercy KAZIMA (Malawi) Petar KENDEROV (Bulgaria) Masataka KOYAMA (Japan) Oh Nam KWON (Korea) Frederick Koon-shing LEUNG (Hong Kong SAR) Hee-chan LEW (Korea) Shiqi LI (China) Cheryl PRAEGER (Australia) Marcela SANTILLÁN (México) Hyun Yong SHIN (Korea), Chair of the Local Organising Committee Ravi SUBRAMANIAN (India) Yuriko YAMAMOTO BALDIN (Brasil) The ICME-12 IPC will have its first meeting on June 14-17 of this year. Any comment or suggestion about the format of the programme of ICME-12 or its content is most welcome and should be sent to the Chair of the IPC, Sung Je Cho (sungjcho@snu.ac.kr), no later than May 15.

The ICME-12 congress will be held in Seoul, Korea, on July 8-15, 2012. Bernard R. Hodgson, Secretary-General of ICMI, bhodgson@mat.ulaval.ca

3. A new contract for the NISS series

The Executive Committee of ICMI is pleased to announce that it has recently signed a new contract with Springer for the publication of the ICMI Study volumes in the "New ICMI Study Series" (NISS). A major improvement of the new contract, which has been the object of intense negotiations with Springer for a number of years, is that ICMI is now entitled to post on its website a pre-publication open access version of the Study volumes, three years after they have appeared as books in the NISS series. This clause applies both to volumes already published in the NISS series and to future books. We hope to see in a near future some concrete outcome of this new clause on the ICMI website.

ICMI has been able to keep some major clauses of the previous contracts, including the fact that the copyright on the Study volumes for any other language than English belongs to ICMI --- the only restriction being that an edition in another language should not appear until one year after the publication of the original book. Members of the ICMI community interested in preparing a translation of (parts of) any book in the NISS series should contact me at their earliest convenience.

Moreover the 60% discount for individual orders of the NISS volumes is still valid --- see ICMI News 7 (December 2008) for instructions on how to order the NISS volumes with the ICMI discount.

Also some free copies of each book in the NISS series are made available to ICMI for various purposes (including providing copies to the editors and main authors of the books).

Just as I had received for the ICMI archives, very recently, the final copy of the new NISS contract duly signed by all parties, it was announced that Marie M. Sheldon, Senior Editor for the Social Sciences with Springer and in charge of the NISS series, was moving to another position in the publication world. I wish to use this opportunity to thank Marie for her superb collaboration over the years and to express her my very best wishes in her new responsibilities.

Information on the books published in the NISS series is available on the Springer website, through the series homepage : http://www.springeronline.com/series/6351

Bernard R. Hodgson, Secretary-General of ICMI, bhodgson@mat.ulaval.ca

4. Special Issue on the History of ICMI published by IJHME

IJHME, the International Journal for the History of Mathematics Education, published as its issue vol. 3 (2008), no. 2, a special issue on the History of IMUK and ICMI. In March 2008, ICMI, the International Commission on Mathematics Instruction, organized a Symposium to commemorate the Centennial of the founding of IMUK, of this first body to establish international cooperation in mathematics education, in Rome-the very same site where that founding had occurred.

In the wake of the Centennial, IJHME had already published several papers about the reform movements around 1908 in an earlier issue-vol. 2, no. 2 (2007). In this new issue, those contributions to this Congress are presented, which highlight its historical dimension in particular. In fact, the ICMI Centennial had two major aims : firstly, studying the history of this first international body itself, and secondly to investigate how key and perennial issues of mathematics education have developed during the existence of ICMI as shaped and/or reflected by ICMI activities. This was accomplished by plenary lectures, special talks, and by the working groups, which were dedicated specifically to such key issues. The Proceedings of the Centennial, which are published by now, contain reports about the working groups by their co-chairs, and abridged versions of the plenaries and special talks.

Regarding the historical dimension, the special issue of IJHME publishes three papers : the complete version of one of the plenary lectures, by Gert Schubring, who gave the first thorough analysis of the history of IMUK under the presidency of Felix Klein ; the complete version of one of the special talks, by Eileen Donoghue, who details D. E. Smith’s role in creating this institution ; and the paper by Fulvia Furinghetti, whose focus is on the development after the re-founding in 1952 as ICMI and the role of international communication, be it by journals, or by other international organizations.

Among the perennial issues, a major concern has always been modernization of syllabi and of teacher training, and this is represented in the issue by three papers : Luciana Zuccheri and Verena Zudini study the approach, implemented in the (then) Austrian region of Trieste, to introduce the elements of the calculus in the upper grades of secondary schools, a key issue of Felix Klein’s reform agenda not implemented, however, in Italy. Arlete de Jesus Brito’s paper is devoted to the role of international agencies in implementing the "modern mathematics" or the "New Math" in a particularly industrialized region of Brazil. And Kirstín Bjarnadottir gives a long-term view of reforms in Iceland, which kept pace with the international developments.

The transformation of mathematics education and its emergence as a scientific discipline since the 1960s/70s is discussed by Rolf Biehler and Andrea Peter-Koop. The use of teaching aids-in modern terms, "the use of technology"-has been a primordial concern for all reformers since the early twentieth century and is studied by Kenneth Ruthven. The use of history of mathematics in its teaching is a long-standing issue of reform initiatives, too, and Michael Fried discusses here the status of this issue and its perspectives, especially as promoted by international organizations like ICMI.

The website of the journal is http://www.comap.com/historyjournal/index.html

and the special issue is to be found at :


Gert Schubring, Bielefeld University, Germany, gert.schubring@uni-bielefeld.de

5. Calendar of Events of Interest to the ICMI Community

3rd International Symposium on Mathematics and its Connections to the Arts and Sciences Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada, 21st-23rd of May, 2009


The 3rd International Symposium on the History and Pedagogy of Mathematics in China

Beijing Normal University , Beijing, China, May 22-25, 2009 Xichi Wang, College of Mathematics & Natural Sciences, Beijing Normal University

19 Xinjeikouwai St., Beijing, 100875., P. R. of China, xiciwang@mail.bnu.edu.cn


5th Asian Mathematical Conference

Putra World Trade Centre, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, June 22 - 26, 2009


ICTMT-9 - 9th Int Conf on Technology in Mathematics Teaching Metz, France, July 6-9, 2009


PME33 - 33rd Annual Meeting of the International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education

Thessaloniki, Greece, July 19-24, 2009


Bridges Banff - Mathematics, Music, Art, Architecture, Culture

The Banff Centre, Banff, Alberta, Canada, July 26-29, 2009


CIEAEM61 - Commission internationale pour l’étude et l’amélioration de l’enseignement des mathématiques

Université de MONTRÉAL, Montréal, Québec, Canada, July 26-31, 2009


ICTMA 14 - 14th International Conference on the Teaching of Mathematical Modelling and Applications

University of Hamburg, Germany, July 27-31, 2009


SEMT ’09 - 10th bi-annual conference on Elementary Mathematics Teaching, "The development of mathematical understanding"

Prague, August 23-28, 2009


"Models in Developing Mathematics Education" The Mathematics Education into the 21st Century Project

Dresden, Saxony, Germany, September 11-17, 2009


SRD’09 - Southern Right Delta’09 7th Southern Hemisphere Conference on the Teaching and Learning of Undergraduate Mathematics and Statistics

Gordons Bay, South Africa, 29 November-4 December 2009


6. Historical vignettes : Greenhill, the first vice-president of ICMI

Alfred George Greenhill (1847-1927) was born in London on 29 November 1847. He entered St. John’s College, Cambridge in 1866, graduating as second wrangler in 1870. He taught briefly at the Royal Indian Engineering College at Cowper’s Hill, before returning to Cambridge in 1873 as a fellow and lecturer at Emmanuel College. Finally in 1876, he was appointed professor of mathematics at the Artillery College in Woolwich, where he stayed for over thirty years.

The majority of Greenhill’s research was concerned with elliptic functions, or, more specifically, their applications in applied mathematics. To this end, he investigated the uses of elliptic functions in dynamics, hydrodynamics, electrostatics and elasticity theory, using them to treat problems such as the motion of a symmetrical top, various kinds of fluid motion, and the distortion of a circular wire under pressure.

In the theory of elasticity, Greenhill’s most important work was probably a paper from 1883 concerning the maximum length possible for an upright cylinder before it is bent under its own weight. Once he had solved the problem, Greenhill applied it to the computation of the greatest height to which a tree can grow, collecting data on the heights of particular trees to evaluate his result.

In his later years, Greenhill’s style of applied mathematics became increasingly unfashionable when compared to the new rigorous approach to pure mathematics, as practiced by such early 20th-century British mathematicians as Hardy and Littlewood, which he disparagingly referred to as "the morbid pathology of the mathematical function". His old-fashioned views were accentuated by such a high admiration of Newton’s Principia, that, he said, "I should prefer to see the whole three books prescribed in the Cambridge course, to be studied in the original Latin". However, it is thought that "in making such assertions he was not more than half serious".

But despite his unconventionality, Greenhill was apparently a successful and highly respected teacher. Indeed, as one of his former students reports, "Greenhill was loved by his old pupils to a degree which few Professors can have enjoyed".

Throughout his long scientific career, Greenhill received many honours. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society, a member of the London Mathematical Society, a corresponding member of the Académie des Sciences and an honorary foreign member of the Academia dei Lincei. Finally, when he retired from his Woolwich professorship in 1908, he was knighted by King Edward VII.

In his retirement Greenhill devoted his mathematical activities more explicitly to matters concerning pedagogy. At the 1908 International Congress of Mathematicians in Rome, he was appointed one of the three members of the founding committee of ICMI, the other two being Felix Klein and Henri Fehr. He served as vice-president of the Commission until 1920.

He continued to work on mathematics during his retirement, but his health gradually declined throughout the 1920s, and he died on 10 February 1927.

- A. E. H. Love, George Greenhill, Journal of the London Mathematical Society, 3, 1928, 27-32.
- J. W. Nicholson, George Greenhill, The Mathematical Gazette, 14, 1928-29, 417-420.
- Adrian Rice, Randolph-Macon College, Virginia, USA, arice4@rmc.edu


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Mis en ligne le 11 mars 2009 par Charlotte BOUCKAERT