Contemporary Issues in Mathematics Education: Mathematical Science research Institute Publications No. 36

Rahim, Medhat H

Authors

Estela A. Gavosto, Steve G. Krantz, and William McCallum (Editors)

The Press Syndicate of the University of Cambridge

The Pitt Building, Trumpington Street

Cambridge

CB2 IRP, UK

40 West 20 Street,

New York, NY 10011-4211 USA

1999; 173 pages

Paperback

Reviewer

Medhat H. Rahim

Lakehead University

Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada,

P7B 5E1

The 173-page text represents writings from the Conference on the Future of Mathematics Education at Research Universities, held at Mathematical Sciences Research Institute (MSRI) in Berkeley on December 5 and 6, 1996.

The text consists of four parts: Part I presents general issues in university mathematics education. Part 2 presents case studies in mathematics education. Part 3 presents a range of opinions on mathematics education in elementary and secondary school levels, and Part 4 presents the reports of the working groups of the conference.

Specifically, in Part 1, a special focus was directed toward “Education of Mathematics Majors,” contributed by Hung-Hsi Wu; “The Mathematics Major at Research Universities” by Peter G. Hinman and B. Alan Taylor; and “On the Role of Proof in Calculus Courses” by Thomas W. Tucker.

Part 2, consists of some reported case studies in mathematics education: “IfI Could Talk to the Animals” by Dorothy Wallace; “The Research Mathematician as Storyteller” by William Yslas Veles and Joseph C. Watkins; “Redesigning the Calculus Sequence at a Research University: Issues, Implementation, and Objectives” by Harvey B. Keynes, Andrea Olson, Douglas Shaw, and Frederick J. Wicklin; “Is the Mathematics We Do the Mathematics We Teach?” by Jerry Uhl and William Davis; and “Japan: A Different Model of Mathematics Education” contributed by Thomas W. Judson.

In Part 3, a debate over school mathematics education was presented. Anneli Lax offers “Reflections on Teacher Education.” Richard Askey presents what he calls “The Third Mathematics Education Revolution,” while Bill Jacob introduces “Instructional Materials for K-8 Mathematics Classrooms: The California Adoption, 1997.” Judith Roitman offers “Beyond the Math War” and, finally, William G. McCallum presents his contribution as “Afterward.”

Part 4 presents nine working groups reports. The reports cover a wide scope of issues in contemporary mathematics education problems. 1. “The Renewal of Teaching in Research Departments.”

2. “The Use of Technology in the Teaching of Mathematics.”

3. “Different Teaching Methods.”

4. “The First Two Years of University Mathematics.”

5. “The Mathematics Major.”

6. “The Education of Non-Mathematics Majors.”

7. “Outreach to the Other Departments.” 8. “Outreach to High Schools.”

9. “Research Mathematicians and Research in Mathematics Education.”

The text, in addition, offers as an appendix a brief list of Internet Resources in Mathematics Education, ranging from comprehensive guides, discussion lists, teacher preparation sites, integrating of teaching and research, education reform, and mathematics with application to integrating science, mathematics, and engineering.

Over the last two decades mathematics education has changed at a high speed, resulting in a sharp polarization of opinions among the mathematics community of research mathematicians and mathematics educators toward the more appropriate balance between theory, technique, and practice. This text can be viewed as the outcome of a sincere effort to create a dialogue and discussion platform about mathematics education that includes mathematicians with a wide variety of views. Specifically, in a conference held at the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute in Berkeley in 1996, more than 100 mathematics instructors, all dedicated to effective mathematics teaching, engaged in courageous and lively discussions about the main issue in contemporary mathematics education: how mathematics can and should be taught.

The text is so valuable that one cannot lightly dismiss it. It contains up-to-date views and concerns in mathematics education that are critical for all math teachers and educators alike. The editors of the text thoughtfully stated that the methods many of us have adopted in our teaching have primarily evolved through repeated experience and through trial-and-error. Few of us have ever had any formal instruction at teaching, and few of us have ever engaged in any formal discussion of issues of pedantry. Thus, for many participants in this conference, there was the joy of discovery of a new sort of discourse. There was also the joy of discovery of new and untapped emotions.

In closing, the essays in this text address the new teaching environment in which we live and work, the newly structured society that we serve, and the new sets of goals and values that are being set for every mathematics department at schools and universities. In my opinion, the essays in this volume are of high value to everyone who is trying hard to be an effective mathematics teacher.

Editor’s Note: S. Wali Abdi’s postal address is The University of Memphis, Department of Instruction and Curriculum Leadership, 401 A Ball Hall, Memphis, TN 38152, and e-mail address is abdi.wali@coe.memphis.edu

Copyright School Science and Mathematics Association, Incorporated Feb 2003

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