TSG 35 – “The History of the Teaching and Learning of Mathematics” (Report)

Lost and Found at ICME-12

Usually the program of ICME conferences is so rich that at the end one has the impression to have missed many events and persons, though being very tired from the busy days. This happened to me also at ICME 12 in Seoul, as it happened in the previous ICMEs I attended. Confining ourselves to the parts of the Program relating to History and Pedagogy of Mathematics in the pre-proceedings we may single out the following activities related to this subject:

• Two Topic Study Groups: The TSG 20 on The role of history of mathematics in mathematics education, and the TSG 35 on The history of the teaching and learning of mathematics

• Two Regular Lectures:

RL5-9: Marta Menghini, From practical geometry to the laboratory method: the search for an alternative to Euclid in the history of teaching geometry

RL4-10: Uffe Thomas Jankvist, History, application, and philosophy of mathematics in mathematics education: Accessing and assessing students’ overview & judgment

• One Discussion Group (DG 5) on Uses of history of mathematics in school (pupils aged 6 – 13) carried out by Bjørn Smestad and Kathleen Clark

• One Workshop & Sharing Group WSG-37 carried out by Peter Ransom: Cross-curricular stem work with 11-18 year old students using hand-held technology

• 11 Posters related to the TSG 20; 3 Posters related to the TSG 35

• Two meetings of the Affiliated Organizations HPM (International Group for the Relations between the History and Pedagogy of Mathematics) chaired by Evelyne Barbin.

From: http://www.icme12.org/photo/photo_Day1/index.html

I attended all these activities, except the workshop of Peter Ransom, which was overlapping with my presentation in the meeting of HPM. However, the workshop attendees stated that Peter was brilliant and shared many ideas, as he usually does.

My overall impression is that, as it was in the spirit of the original founders, ICME-12 provided the occasion to interact with different streams of research and school practice. In particular, it was a good occasion to approach the local cultures and many new colleagues from Eastern countries. Even more, this happened at the HPM Satellite meeting in Daejeon. Unfortunately it was not possible for me to attend the meeting in Daejeon, but reading the proceedings I learnt a lot about the research and the practice in the classroom about history and mathematics education in Korea and in the near countries.

At ICME-12 my main task was to chair with the co-chair Kristín Bjarnadóttir the Topic Study Group 35: The History of the Teaching and Learning of Mathematics.

The Aims of the TSG 35 were illustrated in the announcement of ICME-12 as follows.

History of mathematics teaching and learning is relatively new as a subject of international attention and research, but it is developing actively and dynamically. It became visible for the first time at ICME 10 in 2004 at Copenhagen, as the TSG29. The success and energy of these activities led to the launching of the first international journal devoted to this field of study, the International Journal for the History of Mathematics Education, which has been published since 2006. History of mathematics education then became a subject in various international meetings, for instance at the ESU-5 in Prague in 2007, ESU-6 in Vienna in 2010, and at the CERME meetings. During the TSG38 at ICME-11 in Monterrey, research into this subject proved its productivity again, with papers presented on the history of the reform movements, on the analysis of classical textbooks, and on historical practice (inside and outside institutions). Recently, specialized international research symposia took place in Iceland and in Portugal.

On the occasion of ICME-10, a first international bibliography of research in the field was prepared.

The bibliography is now retrievable at the following address:


This bibliography outlined streams in research: transmission and socio-cultural reform movements; aspects of teaching practice (textbooks, methods, teacher professionalization); cultural, social and political functions of mathematics instruction; and comparative studies.

Possible themes to be treated are history of:

– changes of curricula in the various countries

– changes of mathematics education as a professional independent discipline

– the cultural and social role of mathematics

– policies in teacher education

– changes and roles of teachers’ associations

– the situation of journals on mathematics education

– the role of textbooks in the teaching and learning of mathematics

– general trends in the organizing of the lesson

– the overall impact of digital technologies in the learning and teaching of mathematics

– treatment of particular topics (geometry, algebra, etc.)

– interdisciplinarity and contexts

– reforms movements

– methods.

The activities of the TSG 35 were prepared along the last two years by the co-chairs with the precious help of the Team Members: Amy K. Ackerberg-Hastings (USA), Alexander Karp (USA), Snezana Lawrence (UK), and Young Ok Kim (South Korea). The Liaison IPC Member was Evelyne Barbin

The TSG 35 had one and a half hour timeslots at its disposal.


This was the Final Program:

Session I July 10 Tue, 10:30-12:00 (chair Kristín Bjarnadóttir)

10:30-10:35  Opening

10:35-11:00 Teaching mathematics with objects: The case of protractors

Amy Ackerberg-Hastings, UMUC & NMAH, United States, aackerbe@verizon.net

11:00-11:25 Scholarly treatises or school textbooks? Mathematical didactics in traditional China and Vietnam

Alexei Volkov, National Tsing Hua University, Taiwan, alexei.volkov@gmail.com

11:25-11:50 Notebooks as a teaching methodology: A glance through the practice of professor Cuesta (1907-1989)

Maria Teresa Gonzalez, University of Salamanca, Spain, maite@usal.es

11:50-12:00 Discussion and Closing

Session II, July 11 Wed, 10:30-12:00 (chair Amy Ackerberg-Hastings)

10:30-10:35 Opening

10:35-11:00 Development, Problems and thoughts of New China (PRC)’s mathematics education

Qinqiong Zhang, Wenzhou University, China, zhang922@yahoo.com

Kongxiu Kuang, Southwest University, China, kongxiu2006@126.com

Yimin Xie, Jinan University, China, 411569704@qq.com

Naiqing Song, Southwest University, China, songnq@swu.edu.cn

11:00-11:25 Russian mathematics teachers: Beginnings

Alexander Karp, Teachers College, United States, apk16@columbia.edu

11:25-11:50 The implementation of the ‘New Math’ and its consequences in Iceland. Comparison to its neighbouring countries

Kristín Bjarnadóttir, University of Iceland, Iceland, krisbj@hi.is

11:50-12:00  Discussion and Closing

Session III, July 13 Fri, 15:00-16:30 (chair Alexander Karp)

15:00-15:05   Opening

15:05-15:30 Early history of school mathematics in North America 1607-1861

McKenzie (Ken) Clements, Nerida Ellerton, Illinois State University, United States, macleme@ilstu.edu, ellerton@ilstu.edu

15:30-15:40 The changing fortunes – development of mathematics education in the Balkan societies in the 19th century (Distributed paper)

Snezana Lawrence, Bath Spa University, United Kingdom, snezana@mathsisgoodforyou.com

15:40-15:55 Presentation of the forthcoming Handbook on the history of mathematics education

Alexander Karp, Teachers College, United States, apk16@columbia.edu

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

15:55-16:20 Learning of mathematics in nineteenth century South India

Senthil Babu, French Institute of Pondicherry, India, senjay@gmail.com

16:20-16:30  Discussion and Closing

Session IV, July 14 Sat, 10:30-12:00 (chair Fulvia Furinghetti)

10:30-10:35 Opening

10:35-11:00 Missionaries and mathematics education

Gregg DeYoung, The American University in Cairo, Egypt, gdeyoung@aucegypt.edu

11:00-11:25 Some aspects of scientific exchanges in mathematics between USA and Brazil

Lucieli Trivizoli, Universidade Estadual de Maringa, Brazil, lmtrivizoli@uem.br

11:25-11:50 Common fractions in L. F. Magnitskii’s Arithmetic (1703): Interplay of tradition and didactical innovations

Viktor Freiman, Universite de Moncton, Canada, viktor.freiman@umoncton.ca

Alexei Volkov, National Tsing Hua University, Taiwan, alexei.volkov@gmail.com

11:50-12:00 Discussion and Closing


Fulvia Furinghetti

Dipartimento di Matematica,

Università di Genova. Italy


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