The ICMI Newsletter has new publishing dates:
March 15, June 15, September 15, December 15
From the desk of Patricio Felmer, member of ICMI EC 2021-2024
The mathematics achievements of South American (SA) students are far from being satisfactory, as various international tests inform us periodically. We may consider the PISA test in its 2018 edition as an example: SA participant countries scored more than 70 points below average. However, these figures are not enough to illustrate well what is really happening. When analyzing the scores in detail, we realize that more than 50% of students only reach level 1 or below, which essentially means that more than 50% of 15-year-old students in the region do not demonstrate skills that enable them to use mathematics effectively. In simple words, this means that, on average, in a SA classroom, half of students do not understand what is going on in a mathematics lesson.
Faced with these results, the key challenge and question are: what can we do to change this reality that affects so many? Certainly, these figures are the result of many factors which are out of our control. Poverty affecting a large portion of population, unequal wealth distribution, school segregation, and inconsistent public policies, are among the factors affecting school mathematics learning and, certainly, learning in other areas of knowledge, arts and culture. The low achievement in mathematics of our students is a multifactorial problem at the educational system level.
However, even if the solution of this problem goes beyond our hands, the question still remains, what should we do to improve the mathematics learning of our students?
I want to propose three directions in which we can move forward. First, collaboration among mathematicians interested in education and mathematics educators is something we should work on. This factor has a strong impact in initial formation of elementary and secondary teachers. In those places, where this collaboration takes place, future teachers benefit, with the subsequent benefit for students and mathematics education as a whole. This collaboration is also important for advancing public policies regarding mathematics education, public relations and mathematics dissemination. No efforts should be spared to promote collaboration among mathematic education societies and mathematics societies in general, which in our countries usually represent small communities.
Second, efforts for improving research capabilities in mathematics education should be encouraged across countries. As a sign of vitality, there are various local journals in the region publishing research articles in mathematics education. On the other hand, there is a long tradition of international meetings in collaboration with Central and North America and Iberian countries, like CIAEM and CIBEM supported by ICMI. These meetings, and many local conferences, provide a forum for academic discussion and collaboration and connect us with the world through invited insightful speakers. But all this is not enough: mathematics education research still needs to improve its quality to have a stronger position internationally. There is a lot to do in this area, but there is no obvious path to advancement. Sustained efforts, creativity, innovation, collaboration and promotion of young researchers would certainly help.
Third, research should take place closer to the ground. It is not enough to research new theories, methods and practices if they do not get installed in schools. Mathematics education research results should be implemented in schools, maybe just in one school or at a school district level, but it should reach the ground. Along with that, replication or adaptation of research results or practices developed abroad should be also considered. The mere act of adapting and implementing a certain method in a reality different from the one where it was conceived, could result in a completely new and enriching way of looking at things. And, in addition, this experience could definitively become an insightful research subject by itself.
Encouraging collaboration between mathematicians interested in education and mathematics educators, improving research quality in a broad sense, and moving research closer to the ground, are three directions to move forward. These directions are in our hands to follow and develop to improve the mathematics learning of our students in SA, and perhaps also in other regions. The problem is enormous and complex and solutions will come in the long-term, but we have the responsibility of moving ahead now, to start changing the reality that affects so many.
ICMI: Election of a new executive committee (2025-2028)
The International Commission on Mathematical Instruction (ICMI) launches the first two steps of the Process of Election of the ICMI Executive Committee (EC) for the 2025-2028 term in office:
1) Professor Abraham Arcavi was appointed as the Chairperson of the Nominating Committee (NC) that is in charge of the composition of the slate that will be presented towards the election of the ICMI EC 2025-2028.
2) ICMI invites ICMI representatives to submit nominations for each of the ICMI EC positions:
Nominations for President and Secretary General must be received by April 1, 2023, and nominations for the other positions must be received by June 1, 2023.
All nominations should be sent to Abraham Arcavi < firstname.lastname@example.org>, Chair of the Nominating Committee, from an official e-mail address of the AO/ICMI representative and cc-ed to the ICMI president. <email@example.com>
Subsequently, the NC will form the slate to be presented towards the election of the next ICMI EC. This election will take place at the ICMI General Assembly, on July 7, 2024 in Sydney - one day prior to the ICME-15
For further details, please consult the following website:
ICME-15 Progress update
We’ve received some wonderful feedback following the release of the First Announcement – you can find the announcement here if you missed it. Unique features of ICME-15 that you might have noticed include reimagined interactive workshops, and vibrant and innovative discussion groups. We’re looking forward to sharing more of our vision for the Congress with you in the coming months.
At each ICME, a small number of countries and regions highlight their achievements and challenges in mathematics education by presenting a snapshot of important areas of scholarship and work. These 90-minute presentations typically consist of a series of oral presentations and include time for questions and discussion.
Countries and regions are invited to submit an application to give a National Presentation at the ICME-15 Congress using this form before December 31, 2022. Applications should be submitted by the National Representatives of ICMI member states, or academic groups representing ICMI member states.
Information about volunteer opportunities will also shortly be available. You can find out more about all these opportunities on the ICME-15 website.
In other news, the work of the TSG teams is underway, which means it won’t be long until the descriptions of the TSGs are available, and we are close to a full complement of Plenary Panelists and Speakers.
The IPC also have their next meeting in Sydney in February. I am looking forward to being able to thank them in person for their ongoing efforts.
If you have any feedback on ICME-15 that you’d like to share, or if you have questions about participant-led activity proposals or the Congress in general, you can contact us directly by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I can’t wait to welcome you to Sydney in 2024!
News from IMU
by Carlos E. Kenig, IMU President and Helge Holden, IMU Secretary General
As our terms as Secretary General and President of the IMU come to an end this coming December, it is perhaps fitting that we share with the ICMI community some of our thoughts and reminiscences on the partnership of the ICMI and the IMU.
We leave our positions with this partnership being very strong, and continuing to grow, to the long-lasting benefit of all of us. This is very rewarding. There are a number of important collaborations in place, some old, some newer, that are ongoing, through the very turbulent period that the world has been going through. A sterling example here is the joint Capacity and Networking Project (CANP), whose aim is to enhance mathematical education at all levels in developing countries, by developing the educational capacity of those who educate teachers. This is a project that we all have great hopes for. Moreover, in these difficult times, ICMI and IMU have been able to count on each other as trusted partners. We remember clearly the very stressful period in February 2020, when at the outset of the pandemic, ICMI was contemplating the postponement of the upcoming ICME in Shanghai. This coincided with a meeting of the Executive Committee of the IMU, held in South Africa, and we were able to have long face to face conversations with Jill Adler, who was then the president of ICMI, offering advice and support. In turn, at the end of February 2022, when the IMU decided to cancel the in-person International Congress of Mathematicians in St Petersburg, and turn it into a virtual event, under severe financial pressure, ICMI generously contributed funds to help the IMU.
These examples showcase the depth and strength of this partnership.
At the personal level, being members of the ICMI Executive Committees (three of them for Helge, two of them for Carlos) we had the pleasure of getting to know well some of our ICMI colleagues, and to learn first hand about the excellent work that ICMI carries out. This has been a true pleasure, at both the personal and the professional levels.
We conclude by congratulating ICMI for its excellent work and thanking ICMI for the warm collaboration with the IMU, both of which we are sure will continue to flourish.
Helge Holden and Carlos E. Kenig
Incoming Executive Committee of the IMU (2023-2026)
President: Hiraku Nakajima (Japan)
Secretary General: Christoph Sorger (France)
Vice Presidents: Ulrike Tillmann (UK) and Tatiana Toro (US, Colombia)
Members-at-Large: Mouhammed Moustapha Fall (Senegal), Nalini Joshi (Australia),
Jong Hae Keum (Republic of Korea), Paolo Piccione (Brazil), Günter Ziegler (Germany) and Tamar Ziegler (Israel)
Open Call for contributions to an ICMI Symposium on: Mathematics Education and the Socio-Ecological
ICMI is hosting a one-day symposium on March 20, 2023, to act as a gathering point for scholars working in what might be diverse areas, but whose concerns could be broadly grouped together as “socio-ecological”.
We invite expressions of interest from researchers, teachers, community-educators, activists, and policymakers across the globe who are working on issues in mathematics education that make links across social (including political) and ecological (including environmental) questions and related ethical concerns. We include or appreciate within the socio-ecological any perspective which engages in theorization or practice around socio-ecological issues, and their relations to mathematics and mathematics education.
We imagine the socio-ecological may have resonance for scholars working in the following areas (but not restricted to): critical mathematics education, climate change education, Indigenous ways of knowing, ethnomathematics, decolonial and antiracist perspectives, mathematical modelling, STEM approaches, arts-based research, and other interdisciplinary work involving mathematics or theoretical approaches that address the socio-ecological aspect. Such areas of scholarship commonly include multiple-stakeholders such as teachers, community educators, learners, community-members, scholars of various disciplines, and we encourage contributions that are inclusive in this regard.
The aims of the symposium are as follows:
With these aims, the symposium will contribute to knowledge building, relating to mathematics education and the socio-ecological, and, moreover, it has the potential to lead to a proposal for consideration as an ICMI Study on the topic.
The symposium will take place online and, depending on the response from colleagues, the event may run twice, to cater as much as possible for participants in different time zones. The overall structure will comprise: a plenary talk and related discussion; research reports and posters (in parallel sessions); and a panel discussion.
We invite proposals from a diversity of voices for research reports and posters. These may focus on practice or theory or both, in relation to socio-ecological issues. In both formats, we welcome plans for active engagement of the audience: Research reports will involve a 20-minute presentation and 20-minute discussion (or equivalent). Poster sessions will include engagement and discussion with participants.
Proposals, in the form of abstracts, should be submitted to : (email@example.com) by the deadline of January 20, 2023.
In your covering email please indicate whether you are available to participate during:
Please name your file: First author surname_ResearchReport OR First author surname_Poster.
There will be a review process for all applications and two reviewers will read each submission. The criteria for review will be the extent to which the proposal addresses how the work, in its current form and/or future direction, links and relates across socio-political, ecological, and ethical issues. Scholarship involving multiple stake-holders as described above will be an advantage.
At the symposium, written and oral contributions will be offered in English. Informal engagement and meaning-making in the representative languages will be encouraged.
Informal proceedings of the symposium, including research report abstracts, will be collated, and made available. There are no current plans to invite fuller papers. However, there are plans to make the symposium resources available online; we will be encouraging participants to disseminate their work more widely, potentially in collaboration with each other; furthermore, developing the symposium writing into a journal special issue is under consideration.
Deadline for submissions: January 20, 2023
Decision on outcome of submissions: February 20, 2023
Symposium event: March 20, 2023
This symposium is a collaborative initiative, with the kind support of ICMI, involving Kate le Roux, Alf Coles, Richard Barwell, Marcelo Borba, Anna Chronaki, Rochelle Gutiérrez, Mariam Makramalla, Aldo Parra, Milton Rosa, Armando Solares, and Jayasree Subramanian.
Latest news about the 26th ICMI Study
In the last issue of the newsletter ICMI President Frederick Leung announced that an ICMI Study on geometry learning and teaching is being launched.
Now the whole international program committee (IPC) for the study is formed:
Angel Gutiérrez - University of Valencia, Spain
Thomas Lowrie - University of Canberra, Australia
Cathy Bruce - Trent University, Canada
Fabien Emprin - University of Reims, France
Keith Jones - University of Southampton, UK
Roza Leikin - University of Haifa, Israel
Lisnet Mwadzaangati - University of Malawi, Malawi
Oi-Lam Ng - Chinese University of Hong Kong, China
Yukari Okamoto - University of California at Santa Barbara (UCSB), USA
Milton Rosa - Universidade Federal de Ouro Preto, Brazil
Manuel Santos-Trigo - CINVESTAV, Instituto Politécnico Nacional, Mexico
Frederick Leung (ICMI President) - The University of Hong Kong, China
Jean-Luc Dorier (ICMI Secretary-General) - University of Geneva, Switzerland
The first meeting of the IPC is planned at the end of February 2023 in Valencia, its main purpose is to work on the Discussion Document (DD) which details the study and is a call for contributions. The DD will be disseminated widely soon after February 2023. The co-chairs will also reach out to scholars in the field and invite them to join the study conference, which should happen in 2024. Details on the date and venue will be given with the publication of the DD. In the meantime, if you have any views or suggestions on this Geometry Study, please feel free to contact Angel (Angel.Gutierrez@uv.es) or Tom (Thomas.Lowrie@canberra.edu.au).
THE ICMI Database project – Mathematics curricula all over the world
By Núria Planas – ICMI EC Member
The term curriculum has its roots in the Ancient Roman culture and in the classical Latin verb currere, whose closer meaning in modern English could be ‘to run.’ The running or race metaphor is certainly inspiring. It suggests many ideas, from that of competition with those most rapid winning the race, to that of movement with learners, teachers, families and curriculum developers experiencing together the running. A certain meaning of currere can thus expand the educational experience of the curriculum beyond the syllabus, the course, the materials or the objectives of teaching and learning. Currere is not then the race to be won but rather the race or path to be run. In the context of mathematics education and conceived broadly, currere can be viewed as a collaborative move towards the progressive understanding and learning of mathematical concepts and structures to be used in practice. For this to happen, educational systems all over the world need to select and interpret mathematical and pedagogical contents, human, symbolic and material resources…, which is far from trivial.
In 2011, the International Commission on Mathematical Instruction (ICMI) launched the Database Project, https://www.mathunion.org/icmi/activities/icmi-database-project. The ultimate goal of this project is to build and update a database of the mathematics curricula at different levels of instruction across the world. Across the pre-tertiary stages, most mathematics curricula are largely regulated under country policies, whereas at the tertiary stage these curricula are often decided at the more local level of each particular university. The future consideration of university curricula, including mathematics in courses for prospective mathematics teachers, will need a multi-case approach within countries, differently from the common single-case approach for pre-tertiary curricula. At present, pre-tertiary mathematics curricula of 37 countries from Argentina to United Kingdom – listed in alphabetical order – are documented. The collection of data for each entry is organized through summaries – provided by country representatives – and links to institutional local webpages with curricular texts and guidelines. With the valuable support of the country representatives, this information remains updated over time and, when possible, expanded. Currere is, of course, more than links to curricular texts and guidelines. Nonetheless, as we learn about these data, we learn about mathematics curriculum too.
Two more related accounts of the strong interest of ICMI in issues of curricula are 1) the concluded ICMI Study 24, ‘School mathematics curriculum reforms: Challenges, changes and opportunities’ (for the Discussion Document, the Study Conference, and the Conference proceedings, visit http://www.human.tsukuba.ac.jp/~icmi24), and 2) the forthcoming Springer volume, ‘Mathematics curriculum reforms around the world: The 24th ICMI Study’, https://www.springer.com/series/6351, edited by Yoshinori Shimizu (Japan) and Renuka Vithal (South Africa). The ICMI Study 24 and the Database Project both adopt a defining cross-cultural lens in the approach to the mathematics curriculum. Considering these ICMI projects and their particular similarity in this regard, we may wonder: Why is the collection and presentation of cross-cultural curricular data important for mathematics education? I will next argue that it is important for two reasons at least, and I will illustrate these for the specific case of the Database Project.
A first reason is that collecting and presenting cross-cultural curricular data is important in order to learn from and through diversity. The Database Project reflects and represents an enormous diversity of curricula – and curricular cultures – covering mathematical contents that exist with respect to both student age and country variation. Representations of diversity are always important, because they allow us to foresee and discuss alternatives other than those initially imagined. If mathematics teachers, curriculum developers, stakeholders and researchers have the opportunity to situate their perspectives on curricula in relation to other perspectives in a larger context, they also have the opportunity to learn by contrast and perhaps infer some common lessons. A second reason is that collecting and presenting cross-cultural curricular data is important in order to understand the cultural nature of the mathematics curriculum, likewise any other subject curriculum. The mathematics curriculum is cultural, not only because it is produced within institutionalized sites, but also because beliefs, values and rules mediate decisions about what to design, teach, learn and assess, and by whom.
Notwithstanding the foregoing, the collection and presentation of cross-cultural curricular data is challenging too. Again, I will argue that it is challenging for two reasons at least that I will illustrate for the singular case of the Database Project. A first reason, especially present in this Project, is the language for communication of curricular data. While some countries have English as one of the languages of their curricular texts, hence links to webpages in English are possible, these are exceptions. English summaries in collaboration with the country representatives then precede texts in the respective official languages. It is still feasible, however, that country-based teams consulting the Database Project have some people who know one or two more languages other than those official in their context. On the few occasions when this does not happen, there can be other options. A Spanish team has easy linguistic access to the data from the Argentina, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Paraguay, Peru… entries, although there may be different meanings attached to the same words in use across countries – the Spanish word evaluación (assessment) is a clear example of this. A second reason that makes the cross-cultural nature of the Database Project challenging is the necessary caution and concern over the course of any comparison or association. Cultural and societal differences between Eastern and Western approaches to mathematics, pedagogy and mathematics education, for instance, cannot be disregarded in the cross-reading of some country entries like those from France and China. As said above, a common language at the level of words and sentences does not imply common interpretations either.
Be it a challenge, a strength or both, the very conception of the Database Project makes it an ongoing project that is never complete, because of continuous expansion and updating. This is a ‘match’ with currere itself. The mathematics curriculum is also an ongoing project, never finalized regardless of the country. Any set of decisions, texts and actions is alive. It is regularly assessed and it will be revised after some years for redesign and, hopefully, improvement and adjustment to societal changes.
If you are interested in adding to the Database Project, or if you have comments about some of its entries, please let me know at Nuria.Planas@uab.cat. I would love to hear from you!
In the last issue of this newsletter, we told you how ICMI is very eager to make as many as possible of its past and recent publicationy accessible via online open access.
Now you can access the following documents on the ICMI website:
More past ICMI Study Volumes will be made available open access in 2023 and 2024 and some pages on the ICMI website will be restructured to make this information better accessible.
As announced in previous newsletters, ICMI is now publishing all new ICMI Study Volumes open access.
The newest Studies are ICMI Studies 24 and 25 which will both be published in the coming months.
Two major figures of ICMI passed away recently: Jeremy Kilpatrick and Geoffrey Howson
By Mogens Niss, Professor Emeritus, Roskilde University (DK) – ICMI Secretary-General (1991-1998)
Obituary of Jeremy Kilpatrick, 1935-2022
Professor Jeremy Kilpatrick, University of Georgia, Athens, USA, passed away on September 17, 2022, four days before his 87th birthday, after having suffered from a strong version of Parkinson’s disease for only a few months.
Jeremy was born in Iowa in 1935 and earned an A.B degree (1956) in mathematics and an M.A. degree (1960) in education at the University of California at Berkeley alongside teaching mathematics in a junior high school. He then went to Stanford University, where he earned a M.Sc. degree (1962) in mathematics and a PhD degree (1967) in mathematics education under the supervision of Ed Begle. At Stanford, he worked (1962-1967) with Ed Begle and Georgy Pólya as a research assistant in the renowned School Mathematics Study Group. After Stanford he taught (1967-75) at Teachers College, Columbia University, New York, as an Assistant and later as an Associate Professor. In 1975, he joined the University of Georgia (Athens) as a full professor of mathematics education, from 1993 as a Regents’ Professor. He remained at UGA till his retirement in 2017. In 2020 he lost his beloved wife and life-long companion Cardee, whom he met at Stanford, and who also fell victim of a version of Parkinson’s disease.
It is impossible to do justice to Jeremy Kilpatrick’s extensive and outstanding contributions and services to mathematics education, both nationally and internationally, in a brief appreciation such as this one. For that a full biography would be needed. In addition to having written hundreds of ground-breaking papers and book chapters, Jeremy has edited numerous books and reports that now form part of the classics on mathematics education research and development. The foci of his research have been problem solving; history of mathematics education; teachers’ proficiency; curriculum change and its history; assessment; and the nature, state, and history of mathematics education research. He has been a member of a truly impressive list of boards, committees, and panels. He served as the editor-in-chief of Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, 1982-1988. Throughout his career, Jeremy received a large number of awards and honors, including an honorary doctorate (1995) at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, NCTM’s Lifetime Achievement Award for Distinguished Service to Mathematics Education (2003), and membership of the US National Academy of Education (2010). As particularly regards ICMI, Jeremy Kilpatrick served for three terms on the Executive Committee of ICMI (1987-1998), 1991-1998 as one of its two Vice Presidents. He was a co-editor of the Proceedings of ICME-4 (published in 1983), and co-chaired (together with Anna Sierpinska) the ICMI Study Mathematics Education as a Research Domain (the study volume of which was published in 1998). He was awarded ICMI’s Felix Klein Medal for distinguished lifetime achievement in 2007.
I would like to end this appreciation of Jeremy Kilpatrick’s formidable professional life and contributions to mathematics education by adding some personal notes. I met Jeremy for the first time, albeit only rather briefly, at ICME-4 in Berkeley (1980) and then again at ICME-5 in Adelaide (1984), where he gave one of the plenary lectures. I got to know him really well during – and after - our years together on the ICMI Executive Committee 1987-1998. Despite his status as one of the giants in mathematics education research and development, Jeremy was always extremely curious, open-minded, kind and helpful to all, regardless of their age, position, national or ethnic background. I have seen him care for unknown novices with radiant interest, empathy and sympathy in ways that made them shine. Mathematics education as a field and we who had the privilege to know him have lost a great scholar, humanist and friend.
Obituary of Geoffrey Howson, 1931-2022
(Albert) Geoffrey Howson, Professor Emeritus and former Secretary-General of ICMI, born 1931, passed away on November 1, 2022.
Those who had the privilege to know Geoffrey Howson personally sometimes might have thought of him as an epitome of the classic British aristocratic academic with a robust upper-class background, reflected in his highly articulate and elaborate mastery of the English language both in written and oral form in a large variety of genres and registers. However, Geoffrey was, in fact, a miner’s son, the youngest of seven children. This talented boy was the first in his family to have secondary education, graduating from a local grammar school in Yorkshire, Castleford Grammar School, where he chose the mathematics and science stream in the Sixth Form. Supported by various grants and scholarships he then went – in 1949 - to the University of Manchester where he earned a PhD in pure mathematics (algebra) in 1955.
After having taught, beginning in 1957, at the Royal Naval College in Greenwich, Geoffrey Howson joined the School Mathematics Project (SMP), directed by Bryan Thwaites, in 1962 at the University of Southampton, taking up a position of lecturer in mathematics. On temporary leave from the University of Southampton, he left SMP in 1967 to serve as assistant director of the Centre for Curriculum Development and Educational Renewal Overseas, which operated primarily in former British colonies in Africa and elsewhere. This position gave rise to numerous visits to Africa and other parts of the world. He returned to Southampton around 1970, where he stayed for the rest of his academic career, in 1979 promoted to Reader in Mathematical Curriculum Studies, and in 1984 to full Professor. Geoffrey took early retirement and became a Professor Emeritus in 1992 but preserved his relationship with SMP for as long as the project lasted, as a Trustee 1967-96, and 1984-1996 as the chair of the board of trustees. In 1965, Geoffrey married his wife Jennifer, who passed away in 2009. He is survived by his daughter Kathy, his granddaughter and several nephews and nieces.
While developing a rapidly increasing interest in mathematics education, both nationally and internationally, Geoffrey Howson became acquainted with ICMI and its activities already in the 1960s and attended the International Congresses on Mathematical Education, the ICMEs, from the very beginning in 1969. Demonstrating great organizational mastery, he organized the second ICME, held in Exeter, in 1972. Later, he served as the Secretary-General of ICMI, 1983-1990, and succeeded together with President Jean-Pierre Kahane (France) in re-vitalizing and re-organizing the commission in several crucial respects, one of which was the introduction of the so-called ICMI Studies, today a preeminent component of ICMI’s activities. Geoffrey’s international interests and activities generated an impressive network of educators throughout the world, with whom he collaborated in multiple ways.
Geoffrey published a large number of highly influential textbooks, reports, research papers and books on a variety of aspects of mathematics education, all written with remarkable eloquence and precision. His primary foci of attention, however, were the history of mathematics education, primarily, but not only, in Britain, and the constitution and development of mathematics curricula at different levels. His meticulous attention to documentation and detail was legendary, and his texts were always spiced with juicy examples and quotations to illustrate his points. Beyond his academic interests, Geoffrey was very interested in classical music, especially opera, medieval church architecture, arts and crafts, above all embroidery, a craft in which he became very skillful indeed.
I met Geoffrey for the first time at ICME-3 in Karlsruhe in 1976 and then on numerous occasions since then. We both were members of the ICMI Executive Committee 1987-1990, when he was the commission’s Secretary-General, a capacity in which I succeeded him. I learned a lot from him and held him in high esteem. Perhaps his most characteristic traits were his intellectual curiosity and his very well-developed sense of humor, typically sprinkled with wonderful self-irony. Geoffrey Howson will be greatly missed. All honor to his name.
Once upon a time… Historical vignettes from the Archives of ICMI: A glance at the Kahane-Howson period
By Bernard R. Hodgson, Curator of the ICMI Archive
To the memory of Geoffrey Howson (1931-2022)
Geoffrey Howson (London, 2007) (Source: IMU Archive – from an interview made on the occasion of the centennial of ICMI)
Professor (Albert) Geoffrey Howson passed away on November 1, 2022. In an obituary appearing in this issue of ICMI News, Mogens Niss, his successor as ICMI Secretary-General, outlines his numerous and important contributions to mathematical education in general, and to ICMI in particular. I wish in this ICMI Archive vignette to focus on the role played by Geoffrey inside ICMI, especially during the two terms that he served on its Executive Committee as Secretary-General of ICMI.
When a new Executive Committee (EC) of the International Commission on Mathematical Instruction (ICMI) started its term in 1983 under the presidency of Jean-Pierre Kahane (1926-2017) and with Geoffrey Howson as Secretary-General, the Commission, it must be stressed, was in a true state of disarray. This can be seen, for instance, from a comment of Olli Lehto (former Secretary of the International Mathematical Union—IMU) about the time span preceding the appointment of that ICMI EC: “For a long time, ICMI’s activities visibly suffered from a lack of adequate administration.” [1, p. 258] Such was the case in particular, notes Lehto, during the 1979-1982 EC term, with distinguished mathematicians Hassler Whitney (1907-1989) serving as President and Peter Hilton (1923-2010) as Secretary-General: “Their professional competence was in striking contrast to the Commission’s inefficient administration.” [ibid., p. 258] The Kahane-Howson tandem was thus entrusted by IMU with the task of putting ICMI back on track.
It may be of interest to note that prior to their joint appointment on the ICMI EC, Kahane and Howson had never met [2, p. 2]. As mentioned by Howson, he and the acting ICMI Vice-President Bent Christiansen (1921-1996) were led to believe, in the early 1980s, that they both would be invited on the next ICMI EC, with Christiansen as President and himself as Secretary-General [ibid., p. 1]. (Howson and Christiansen were then in regular contact in the context of the BACOMET group.) But the ICMI untidiness led IMU to take a strong action and ask Kahane to be President, Christiansen then being invited to renew as Vice-President (he also served for a third consecutive term as ICMI VP). However disappointing this decision may have been for Christiansen, both he and Howson later acknowledged that it “was of great benefit to ICMI,” [ibid., p. 2] considering “the outstanding qualities which Kahane brought to the post.” [3, p. 22]
There is no doubt in retrospect that the Kahane-Howson period (1983-1990) was highly successful and that the goal of restoring credence to ICMI was fully achieved. Both Jean-Pierre Kahane and Geoffrey Howson deserve to be praised on that account.
One crucial ingredient of this success story that I wish to highlight here, and which is still at the core of the ICMI framework for action nowadays, is a new component of ICMI’s activities initiated by the Kahane-Howson EC at the very outset of its first term: the ICMI Studies. This program stems from discussions about the future of ICMI between Howson and Christiansen, prior to the beginning of that EC first term. Among the principles guiding their reflections was the idea of having scientific meetings where participation “should be open to anyone who demonstrated an active interest in the matter under discussion, rather than those personally known to the organisers; and reports of the meeting should be properly prepared and edited and then made commercially available in as cheap a form as possible.” [2, p. 2] His leading role in the conception and establishment of the ICMI Studies program is possibly the single most influential contribution of Geoffrey Howson to the development of ICMI. Of course, this was made possible by the unfailing support and dynamism of Jean-Pierre Kahane.
Just before the beginning of his presidency, Kahane hosted at his home in Paris a small meeting with Howson and Christiansen (who were joined for part of the discussion by Ed Jacobsen, the math specialist at UNESCO) . It is on that occasion that the project of ‘studies’ (originally called ‘symposia’) was presented to Kahane, who “immediately supported the idea.” [2, p. 2] The topics of four of the five ICMI Studies organized during the Kahane-Howson terms were then identified [4, pp. 7-8], namely: (1) The influence of computers and informatics on mathematics and its teaching (see  for more information about this very first ICMI Study); (2) School mathematics in the 1990s; (3) Mathematics as a service subject; and (4) Mathematics and cognition. The topic for another study was soon decided as well: (5) The popularization of mathematics.
A note from a personal perspective: I was hired as a mathematician on a position in a math department directly linked to the mathematical education of teachers. Early in my career, I had the immense privilege of being invited as a participant to three of the first ICMI Studies (1, 3 and 5) that included an open call for contributions. (Studies 2 and 4 were exceptionally of a closed nature, a group of persons being appointed with the task of preparing the Study Volume.) Such an invitation was based on a paper submitted to the Study conference. Being intensely involved in matters pertaining to mathematical education, I had soon become interested in issues such as the impact of computers on teaching (that was the time of early symbolic mathematical systems such as muMATH, an ancestor of Maple or Mathematica), service teaching (of great importance in my own department, especially to prospective teachers and engineers) and the popularization of mathematics—the precise topics of these three studies. I still remember vividly that in 1984, during the annual meeting of the Canadian Mathematics Education Study Group (CMESG), I was summoned—gently of course—by David Wheeler (1925-2000), the Canadian representative to ICMI at that time, in relation to the recent announcement of the first ICMI study: “Bernard, there is that ICMI Study on computers in Strasbourg next year. You must submit a paper!” (That was David’s style… It was like the ‘old wise man’ advising the ‘young faculty member’—although David was then not even 60 years old.) In a recent exchange of emails with Geoffrey on matters pertaining to the history of ICMI, only a few months prior to his passing, he was reminding me of our first meeting in Strasbourg at the computer Study. I am glad that I then had the opportunity of expressing to him the importance of these episodes in my academic path. Being invited very early in my professional life to three ICMI Study conferences held at two-year intervals (1985, 1987 and 1989) was a truly enthralling and inspiring experience that in many ways shaped the rest of my career. I was slightly later asked by Kahane and Howson to present a lecture on the first five ICMI Studies in the education section of the International Congress of Mathematicians held in Kyoto in 1990 . Such exceptional opportunities related to mathematical education in international settings had of course a very deep influence on my professional development.
During their two terms, Kahane and Howson also had to deal with other aspects of ICMI life, for instance:
• the site selection and organizational supervision of International Congresses on Mathematical Education: ICME-5 (1984, Adelaide) and ICME-6 (1988, Budapest) were held in that period, and the site selection was made for ICME-7 (1992, Québec)—I was personally pretty heavily involved in the latter project;
• the affiliation to ICMI of a new Study Group in 1987—the International Organization of Women and Mathematics Education (IOWME);
• or the furthering of the links with IMU, ICMI’s ‘mother’ organization, as well as with UNESCO.
Still, an exceptional part of the heritage from that period, besides the regained good health of ICMI as an organization, remains the fruitful program of ICMI Studies.
Other ICMI-related contributions by Geoffrey Howson may be worth reminding here. His landmark paper  written on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of ICMI remains an important historical reference about ICMI. In a similar vein, he presented at ICME-10 a regular lecture  on the contribution to ICMI of two of its outstanding presidents: Felix Klein (1908-1920) and Hans Freudenthal (1967-1970).
For many decades, Howson has been a key observer of ICMI and of its role in mathematical education as seen from an international perspective. He was never afraid of adopting a critical and challenging standpoint on such matters, but always with eloquence and style. In a previous ICMI Archive vignette , I stressed the crucial role he played in the hosting of ICME-2 in Exeter in 1972, as well as the important heritage he left in the Proceedings of that congress through his reflections, based on the experience of both ICME-1 and ICME-2, about what an ICME congress ought to be and how to achieve such goals. Howson pursued such considerations later, notably in a paper  written after his participation to the ICME-10 congress in Copenhagen in 2004. He then came back to a constant worry of his: staying close and relevant to the teachers:
“My impression was that ICME-10 was far too preoccupied with research in mathematics education and with trying, in what was essentially an internal fashion, to give it credence and status. (…) This is not to say that no attention was given to the immediate concerns of teachers, curriculum developers and others at Copenhagen, but these appeared to be overshadowed by the attention given to educational research.” [10, pp. 1-2]
In connection with the ICMI Studies, he has always supported the view that the so-called Study Volumes published after the conference ought to be short (and slim), cheap and aimed at a wide audience ([2, p. 6] and [10, p. 5]). He himself implemented such a model in connection with the five ICMI Studies held during his terms as ICMI Secretary-General—comments on how he came to develop such a model can be found in [2, p. 3]. His own vision of the aim of the books resulting from ICMI Studies is well captured in the following questions that he raises:
“Does ICMI wish to produce books that have relevance and appeal to teachers and anyone particularly interested in mathematics education, or are they to be of more limited interest and directed more to researchers and research students? Are these latter already well enough served by the various research journals on mathematics education that now exist? These are not simple questions to answer for whatever options one chooses then complications and problems arise.” [2, p. 3]
A beautiful illustration of Geoffrey’s contribution to ICMI is the fact that very recently, in his nineties (!), he was able to resolve a long-standing issue: obtaining from Cambridge University Press the permission to make available on the ICMI website the ICMI-related books published by that house. This includes the Proceedings of ICME-2 and the five Study Volumes of the ICMI Studies held during the Kahane-Howson terms. Discussions with CUP on that matter had been engaged more than a decade ago and repeated by various ICMI ECs, but always to no avail. A spectacular development is that a few months before his passing, Geoffrey was able to finally resolve this matter through his personal contacts with CUP. In a certain way, he was the one who could do it, considering his (strong) connections with CUP going back to half-a-century ago!
Over the last decades, I have been regularly in contact with Geoffrey Howson on different accounts. When I succeeded Mogens Niss as ICMI Secretary-General, I became so to say Geoffrey’s ‘grandson’ and I had quite a few discussions with him about both the ‘philosophical’ and practical aspects of various ICMI matters. His deep familiarity with the history of the Commission was really helpful for me on many occasions. The same could be said in relation to my current responsibilities as Curator of the ICMI Archive. As a follow-up to my recent vignette  about the first two ICMEs, we had a series of email exchanges between June and August of this year. Among the questions I was asking him was the issue of the General Assembly of ICMI and the way this event was occurring over the years, and especially during his terms as ICMI SG. Again, his historical memory was so informative for me. In one of the last emails he sent me, early August, in reaction to a comment of mine that I was burdening him with my queries, he replied: “Do not worry about tiring me with your questions. It adds interest for me to think about days and people gone past. I fear there is little I can now do about the present and even less about the future!”
Chapeau et merci, très cher Geoffrey!
NB: The interested reader will find on the History of ICMI website [www.icmihistory.unito.it/clips.php], edited by Fuvia Furinghetti and Livia Giacardi, an interview that I made in September 2007 with Geoffrey Howson on the occasion of the ICMI Centennial, celebrated in March 2008.
 Lehto, O. (1998). Mathematics without borders: A history of the International Mathematical Union. New York : Springer. [www.mathunion.org/organization/imu-history]
 Howson, A.G. (2007) Some notes on the early ICMI Studies. [www.mathunion.org/icmi/publicationsicmi-bulletin/papers-unpublished-issues-icmi-bulletin]
 Howson, A.G., & Niss, M. (1996). Obituary: Bent Christiansen, 1921-1996. ICMI Bulletin 41, pp. 21-24.
 Howson, A.G. (1982). Minutes of a meeting held in Paris on 3 December 1982 between J.-P. Kahane, B. Christiansen and A.G. Howson. IMU Archive/ SF 1 / Ser 14: ICMI 1981-1982. [Box 14C]
 Hodgson, B.R. (2020). The first ICMI Study (1985). (“Once upon a time… Historical vignettes from the Archives of ICMI”) ICMI News (March 2020) pp. 6-8.
 Hodgson, B.R. (1991). Regards sur les Études de la CIEM. L’Enseignement Mathématique 37, pp. 89-107.
 Howson, A.G. (1984). Seventy-five years of the International Commission on Mathematical Instruction. Educational Studies in Mathematics 15, pp. 75-93.
 Howson, A.G. (2004). Klein and Freudenthal. In M. Niss (Ed.), Proceedings of the 10th International Congress on Mathematical Education – Regular Lectures (CD). [www.mathunion.org/icmi/conferences/icme/past-icmes]
 Hodgson, B.R. (2022). About the ICMEs and their logos (I) – The first and second ICMEs. (“Once upon a time… Historical vignettes from the Archives of ICMI”) ICMI News (June 2022) article 4.
 Howson, A.G. (2004) Reflections on ICMEs. [www.mathunion.org/icmi/publicationsicmi-bulletin/papers-unpublished-issues-icmi-bulletin]
News from CANP - Creating Networks and Impact in Mathematics Education
By Anjum Halai, Vice-President of ICMI responsible for CANP
The Capacity and Network Project (CANP) of ICMI creates networks in low- and middle-income countries to enhance mathematics education at all levels. It aims to develop the educational capacity of those responsible for mathematics teachers, and create sustained and effective regional networks of teachers, mathematics educators and mathematicians, also linking them to international support.
To date ICMI has supported five CANPs, each with the common purpose of advancing mathematics education but differing in its approach and methodology.
Each CANP has one ICMI EC member acting as a liaison person as noted below and the overall oversight and support is provided by Anjum Halai, one of the two Vice-Presidents:
CANP1 (Francophone Sub-Saharan African Region)
EC-Liaison: Jean-Luc Dorier
Regional Representatives: Adolphe Cossi Adihou and Sounkharou Diarra
CANP2 (Central America and the Caribbean)
EC-Liaison: Marta Civil
Regional Representatives: Yuri Morales Lopez and Nelly Amatista León de Morales
CANP3 (Southeast Asia)
EC- Liaison: Susanne Prediger
Regional Representatives: Maitree Inprasitha and Vu Nhu Thu Huong
CANP4 (East Africa)
EC-Liaison - Mercy Kazima
Regional Representatives: Marjorie Sarah Kabuye Batiibwe and Aline Dorimana
CANP5 (Andean Region and Paraguay)
EC- Liaison: Patricio Felmer
Regional Representatives Jorge Daniel Mello Román and Fredy Yunior Rivadeneira Loor
The community of mathematics educators across the five CANPs is a significant resource because working at the grassroots level they provide insights into key issues and challenges in supporting mathematics education. Under the current ICMI Executive Committee, there is significant effort to consolidate and enhance the impact of CANP.
Early next year (2023), CANP leaders from all the five programs will convene with the ICMI EC and Liaison members. A two-day workshop is scheduled on February 15-16, 2023, in Bangkok and will be hosted by Maitree Inprasitha (Khon Kaen University).
Anjum Halai representing ICMI at IYBSSD 2022 conference
The World Academy of Art and Science was held the World Conference on Basic Sciences and Sustainable Development, on September 19-22, 2022, in Belgrade, Serbia, within the International Year of Basic Sciences for Sustainable Development.
Anjum Halai, one of the two Vice-Presidents of ICMI, participated in the conference. The title of her presentation was Inclusive & quality mathematics education for all: Lessons from the CANP Project of ICMI. She presented the work of the Capacity and Network Project (CANP) (see above).
The report of the conference can be downloaded via the link by clicking on the Download button upon the document's appearance. The Report contains the videos of all the talks at the Conference on September 22 as well as several additional videos.
Each of them is activated by clicking on the button with a white arrow on the photo of the speaker or within the field in which the video is announced.
News of the International Day of Mathematics (IDM) March 14, 2023
The theme for the 2023 International Day of Mathematics is Mathematics for Everyone.
Here are some gender inclusive translations of the theme in some languages. More to come on the website:
Preparations for the next IDM celebration, on March 14, 2023, are underway and will include the following items:
Please subscribe to the IDM Newsletter to receive all ongoing announcements about the celebration and the launch of the new activities. And help us to spread the word and motivate all to jointly celebrate mathematics on March 14, 2023!
And feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Christiane Rousseau Chair of the IDM Governing Board
News from ICMI Country representatives and Affiliate organizations
The Inter-American Committee of Mathematics Education (IACME, CIAEM) is pleased to announce the awarding of the Luis Santaló Medal to the illustrious Colombian professor and researcher Luis Carlos Arboleda Aparicio. This medal constitutes the main international recognition granted by IACME. The Luis Santaló Medal is awarded every four years as an official recognition of individuals who have had a significant intellectual career in international Mathematics Education and who have had special links with the Americas. It bears the name of Luis Santaló, who was a Spanish-Argentine mathematician and educator, President of the IACME, who contributed significantly to the teaching and learning of Mathematics in Latin America. https://xvi.ciaem-iacme.org/medalla-santalo-2023/
IACME is also pleased to announce the award of the Marshall Stone Medal to two distinguished Latin American scholars: Sarah González de Lora from the Dominican Republic and Nelly León Gómez from Venezuela. This medal is awarded every four years to people who have contributed significantly to the organization of conferences, congresses, seminars, publications, and other activities carried out by IACME. This recognition is named after Marshall Stone (1903-1989), a brilliant US mathematician, who, together with other distinguished mathematicians and educators from the Americas, was the founder of the Inter-American Committee of Mathematics Education and its president in the period 1961-1972. https://xvi.ciaem-iacme.org/medalla-stone-2023/
These medals will be awarded at the opening ceremony of XVI Inter-American Conference of Mathematics Education to be held in Lima, Peru, from July 30 to August 4, 2023. https://xvi.ciaem-iacme.org/
News from the International Group for Mathematical Creativity and Giftedness (MCG)
By Viktor Freiman, MCG President; Marianne Nolte, MCG Past-President; Linda Sheffield, 12th MCG Conference Program Chair
In collaboration with our membership, we are looking forward to continuing the MCG mission of stimulating, generating, and disseminating information and research on creativity and giftedness in mathematics. From the beginning, the purpose of the group has been to bring together mathematics educators, mathematicians, researchers, and others who are interested in nurturing and supporting the development of mathematical creativity and the realization of mathematical promise and mathematical giftedness, promoting the improvement of teaching and learning mathematics, and widening students’ abilities to apply mathematical knowledge in innovative and creative ways, a tradition of the Group’s conferences whose history goes back to 1999.
After postponing for a year, we had a very successful 12th international conference in Las Vegas September 25-28, 2022. We applaud the determination and hard work of the local chair, Bill Speer, and the 2022 MCG program committee to make it a successful event with an exciting line-up of keynote speakers and an outstanding program with over 60 speakers from 20 different countries. Please visit our open access proceedings, edited by Scott Chamberlin, at https://www.igmcg.org/conf12 to learn more.
The Group is already working on planning our next, 13th conference that will take place at the Central University of Technology, Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa, February 20-23, 2024. Bloemfontein is the capital city of the Free State province of South Africa. The university was established in 1981 as “Technikon Free State”. As part of South African governments’ restructuring of tertiary education for the new millennium, it was promoted to a university of technology status. The registration, as well as the welcoming dinner, will be on the 20th and then the conference will continue Feb 21-23. The First announcement will be issued early in 2023. For more information, visit the MCG website at https://www.igmcg.org.
We also invite you to browse the latest issues of the MCG Newsletter, edited by Scott Chamberlin, at https://www.igmcg.org/newsletter and the MCG Blog, managed by Elisabet Mellroth, at http://blog.igmcg.org. We encourage you to contact Scott (Scott@uwyo.edu) or Elisabet (email@example.com) to contribute to the newsletter or blog as well as submit a proposal to speak at the conference in South Africa.
Please consider joining the Group, free of charge, by filling in a Membership Form, International Group for Mathematical Creativity and Giftedness (MCG) Membership Application Form (google.com). For any questions about the Group and its activities, please, contact Viktor Freiman, firstname.lastname@example.org
Dates: June 7 to June 10, 2023. Location: Athens, Greece
The 16th International Conference on Technology in Mathematics Teaching, also known as ICTMT 16, will adopt a transformational approach to Mathematics Education
Plenary and panel guests: Osama Swidan (Israel), Nathalie Sinclair (Canada), Alison Clark-Wilson and Manolis Mavrikis (UK), Marcelo Milrad (Sweden)
Submissions are open till January 23, 2023, for papers and January 30, 2023, for posters and workshops.
Registration opened on December 12, 2022. For more information: http://ictmt16.eds.uoa.gr https://conferences.uoa.gr/event/47/
CIAEM (Conferencia interamericana de educacion mathematica)/ IACME Inter-American Conference on Mathematics Education
CIAEM/IACME XVI will be held from July 30 - August 4, 2023 in Peru, at the University of Lima, in person.
The deadline to submit proposals for workshops, presentations and posters was October 30, 2022. https://xvi.ciaem-iacme.org/ponencias-abiertas/
More information can be found on the CIAEM website.
CERME13, will take place in Budapest, Hungary from July 9 -14, 2023, 1½ years after CERME12 and 1½ years before CERME14, planned in February 2025. Find out more about CERME13 here.
Annual Meeting of the International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education
Dates: July 16 to July 21, 2023
Location: Haifa, Israel
Theme of the conference is “Mathematics education for global sustainability.”
More information on the website: https://pme46.edu.haifa.ac.il/