Canadian Mathematical Society

Progress Report on CMEF 2014

February 20, 2012

CMEF 2014 will take place in Ottawa in late spring or early summer 2014. The three co-organizers are Ann Arden (Ottawa-Carleton DSB and University of Ottawa), Richard Hoshino (Quest University), and Kathleen Pineau (École de technologie supérieure).  At CMESG 2013 (Brock University May 24-28) they will present their ideas for the theme and structure of the meeting and will welcome comments and further ideas from other participants.

December 20, 2012

A CMEF planning meeting was held on December 9 2012 at the CMS meetings in Montreal. In attendance: Shay Fuchs, Viktor Freiman, France Caron, Kathleen Pineau, Malgorzata Dubiel, Wes Maciejewski, Keith Taylor, Bernard Hodgson, Tara Taylor, Melania Alvarez, Harley Weston, Miroslav Lovric, Irena Papst, Peter Taylor (Chair).

Much has been accomplished in the past four Canadian Math Education Forums, particular in bringing teachers at all levels from elementary to post-secondary into a common discussion forum. But there is certainly more to be done, in particular there is a need to bring more of our students into this community in the sense of finding success and engagement in their mathematical encounters. There was agreement that CMEF was an important enterprise and well worth rethinking and holding on a regular basis. In particular, many teachers who have already been part of this are eager for the next meeting.

There was an idea that different Forums could focus on different levels, elementary, secondary, post- secondary. But it was also pointed out that there was good synergy to be found in mixing the levels at any one meeting. Certainly no level exists in isolation.

What is our main focus to be––teacher preparation? curriculum? resources? There was a consensus that the generation of good resources could have a large impact. Such resources could give teachers examples of good approaches and tasks to give students, could give direction (and impetus) to teacher learning and professional development, and would find their way into the classroom and enhance student learning activity. We used the term “vignettes” to describe these units to suggest that they be of modest size or length, focused, powerful and “telling.” They could be in written, pictorial or video format and could be easily posted online.

Preparation of such vignettes could be widespread and their organization, editing and assembling might need an ongoing effort. It was pointed out that much work is already devoted to the production of comparable resources in many parts of the world, and the ICMI Klein project was mentioned as an important example. Thus part of our effort could well be in maintaining for Canadian teachers and instructors a map which pointed to, described and classified such resources.

Another significant project that CMEF could address is the bridging of the gaps that exist between levels, for example the “double discontinuity” (Klein) between high school and university experienced by teachers, first as they pass from school to university as students and then again in a different way as they pass from university, as new teachers, back into the school system.

Participation. The importance of having a wide participant base, different levels, different parts of the country, and different sectors, was emphasized. Those who attended would be expected to accept the role of “teachers teaching teachers” as the fruits of the meeting are disseminated.

Location. It was agreed that Ottawa was a good location for CMEF 2014, as it was central, easy to get to, and we could take better advantage of CMS administrative support.

Organizers. Richard Hoshino has agreed to be a co-organizer. We need others to step forward.

Next planning meeting will be held at the CMESG meetings at Brock University on the weekend of May 25.

Peter Taylor

September 4, 2012

As mentioned below (see posting of June 6), the first of two CMEF planning sessions will be held at the CMS Winter Meeting on Sunday Dec. 9, 2-4 pm. A follow-up meeting will be held at the CMESG meetings at Brock University in May 2013. The four objectives of the sessions are

  1. The purpose and function of CMEF
  2. The theme or focus of CMEF 2014
  3. Participants and location of CMEF 2014

In December, the event will be less than 18 months away, so that a few decisions will need to be made, particularly the timing and location. My purpose here is to provide registration instructions for those able to attend the Montreal meeting and to offer a means of advance input for those who are not.

First let me say that the CMS meeting itself will be interesting as one of its objectives is to kick off the Mathematics of Planet Earth 2013 year. The Education events will all happen on Sunday, starting with a notable plenary talk at 10:30 (Ted Hsu), followed by the Adrien Pouliot talk at 11:30 (Melania Alvarez), and our session at 2 pm. The night before (at 7 pm) there will be a public talk by Doyne Farmer of the Santa Fe Institute, and that will be followed at 8:30 by a staged reading of “Mathematical Science Investigation (MSI): The Anatomy of Integers and Permutations”. Also on Friday night at 7:30 the public lecture (in French) will be by Ivar Ekeland of UBC and Paris-Dauphine.

To attend the CMS meeting you will need to register online. For participants at the CMEF planning meeting, a fee waiver is available equivalent to the one-day early registration fee for each category. For example, the waived amount will be $100 for students, $150 for postdocs, retirees, teachers and unemployed, and $175 for all others. If you register early (before Sept 30) and attend for only one day (not counting the Saturday evening public talk), you will have no registration fee to pay. The procedure is to email me advising of your intent to attend and I will reply, copying the CMS office. When you hear back from me, go online and register. If your total fee is more than the waived amount, you will need to provide a credit card number, but be assured that the CMS will subtract from the total the waived amount.

Just to get the ball rolling, let me record a few thoughts.

  1. Nature of CMEF. We are all agreed that the strength of CMEF has certainly been in its broad participant base as it brings mathematicians, math educators, teachers, publishers and admin/government folks together to talk about the importance, the challenges and the potential of mathematics education at all levels. I suggest that each meeting take a particular question or issue, the participants to be those who are particularly qualified for and interested in the issue.
  2. CMEF 2014. A suggested theme for 2014 might be ways to reimagine and recreate the nature and character of mathematics education in both school and university. In this regard I might point out that there is already much recent activity in this direction for all subjects at the post-secondary level. For example, in Ontario, the Ministry has just come out with a discussion document which the universities and colleges will respond to this Fall. This activity is only partly due to funding pressures. The main thrust is the changing social and cultural landscape and much of that intersects in different ways with the new world of technology. Not only does it offer us powerful and creative ways to communicate with our students, but it also critically affects how they spend their time and use their minds, particularly as they develop as learners.
  3. Location. No decisions have yet been made but I will say that we are currently investigating Ottawa—the downtown area. It's central and we want to make it easy and attractive for government folks and for a wide group of teachers to attend. The CMS office is located in Ottawa and it can provide a lot of the local organizing assistance, in particular housing (Ottawa U residences and it gets very good rates at adjacent hotels). Certainly we found the CMS invaluable at the Vancouver Forum, and in Ottawa they'd be able to play an even larger role.

That's enough for now but I encourage comments on these and other matters. I will post these on this site so that they can be responded to and the resulting discussion will be available to those who are able to attend the Montreal meeting.

Peter Taylor
Chair, CMS Education Committee

June 6, 2012

Informal discussions on the future of CMEF have taken place over the past winter among a few of the past co-organizers. It is felt that, having had 4 successful meetings, the time has come to clearly identify the role and function of CMEF in the Canadian Math Ed landscape. Its strength has certainly been in its broad participant base as it brings mathematicians, math educators, teachers, publishers and admin/government folks together to talk about the place and face of mathematics in school, in college, in university, in the work-place and in Canadian Society. It is clear that there is significant work to do in terms of reimagining and recreating the nature and character of mathematics education in both school and university. [Am I exaggerating here? --I think not.] We have such a wonderful and important (and central) subject and it is so misunderstood by so many. Anyway CMEF would seem to be the ideal body to focus (and I do mean focus!) on this “mission” and the question is, what sort of organization and meeting would best serve this purpose.

There was an ad hoc discussion of this question at the CMESG meeting in Quebec a couple of weeks ago. The proposal informing those discussions was that the Forum would meet every 4 years except that in summer 2014 we would hold a smaller planning meeting to decide upon the shape of the organization with the first meeting of the new “format” to be held summer 2018. Just last weekend (June 3) this issue again came forward as part of the agenda of the CMS Education Committee meeting in Regina. The first question asked was why we were waiting so long to do the planning. Could we not do enough of this planning in 2013 and hold the first “new format” CMEF meeting in 2014? I have thought about this a bit and I now feel that the answer is yes!

I propose that the planning take place at two meetings, the first being the CMS Winter meeting in Montreal in December 2012 and the second being the CMESG meeting in May 2013 at Brock. Our objective, from both these meetings, would be to arrive at a good sense of the purpose and objectives of the Forum, and to outline a program structure that might be able to support and further those objectives. The CMS meeting dates are December 8-10, and the meeting will tentatively take place on the 9th. Anyone who wishes to be part of this is welcome to come. Those who are unable to come are welcome to send me ideas or concerns. I will assemble those and make them available before the meeting. I will post further information later together with a procedure for attending the December meeting.

Peter Taylor
Chair, CMS Education Committee

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