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Mathematical Education Session - Panel Discussion

*School Mathematics Curriculum: Is
there any hope left for "Less is More"?*

**Chaired by:**
**Malgorzata Dubiel**,
Department of Mathematics, Simon Fraser
University, and

**Peter Liljedahl**, Faculty of Education, Simon Fraser University

**Panelists:**

Brent Davis, Faculty of Education, University of Alberta,

Tom O'Shea, Faculty of Education, Simon Fraser University,

Peter Taylor, Department of Mathematics, Queens University,

Walter Whiteley, Department of Mathematics, York University

**Abstract:**

At the 2003 CMS Forum on School Mathematics, held last May in
Montreal, one of the key issues discussed was the problem of
overloaded school curriculum, the result of pressures felt across
Canada to include more and more topics, and cover them in less time.
The rationale often given for maintaining current programs of study
is: "The kids will need this if they're going to be successful at
university math". But students' learning does not increase
proportionally to the increase in concepts covered, and so, the end
product of such curriculum is frequently a student with a toolbox full
of disconnected knowledge, but not necessarily well prepared for
university courses.

In preparation for the second CMS Forum, which will be held in 2005 in
Toronto, the discussions on curriculum were continued by one of the
Working Groups at the 2003 CMESG meeting at Acadia University. One of
the outcomes of this work was the
Position Statement on School
Mathematics Curriculum. This Statement will be a
starting point of this panel discussion.

The title of the panel was inspired by a session held ten years ago,
at the joint AMS-CMS-MAA meeting in Vancouver, which was titled "Less
is More". The mathematicians present there expressed an idea that, if
we exercise some restraint and provide more freedom, teachers can be
more creative and students are much more likely to come away with the
skills we want them to have. Everyone at the session agreed. But, in
the past ten years matters grew even worse. So, is there any
realistic hope for a less-is-more curriculum?