A Canadian Education in Mathematics:Goals, Problems, and Proposals
A discussion paper prepared for theCanadian Forum for Education in MathematicsMay 5 - 7, 1995Qubec City, QubecbyA. J. (Sandy) DawsonPrsident, Groupe Canadien d'tude en didactique des mathmatiques President, Canadian Mathematics Education Study Group
Copies can be obtained from the writer at:
Faculty of Education
CANADA V5A 1S6
The Canadian Forum for Education in Mathematics is an opportunity to bring together those of us who work in mathematics as educators, as researchers, and as users. By learning what others are doing, by discussing the recommendations already made, and by talking with one another, it is hoped that all participants will leavewith strategies for bringing about changes to ensure that all Canadians are numerate, that teachers receive excellent and appropriate education with on-going opportunities for further learning, and that governments, industry, and the educational community share the responsibility for enhancing the mathematical expertise of all Canadians. The goal of the Forum is not to negotiate a new curriculum,but rather to initiate a dialogue, in the spirit displayed by the Orangeville Group, with the hope that such beginnings will lead to a clearer understanding of the goals and aspirations of various segments of Canadian society regarding the mathematical education of its citizens. From such un derstandings courses of action can be developed which are appropriate to the goals and aspirations of thevarious provinces and territories that are represented at the Forum.
This paper is provided as background material for Forum participants. In preparing the paper, numerous reports (a list of sources is attached) were reviewed and summarized. They represent the views of a broad spectrum of Canadian society including provi ncial reports (e.g., Les ditions Agence DÕARC inc.), mathematical scienceposition statements (e.g., National Research Council), policy recommendations from business and industry (e.g., Canadian Chamber of Commerce), and national surveys (e.g., Angus Re id Group). The points of agreement among government, business & industry, and educational communities were more prevalent than were points of contention. There were three major questions evident in most of thesewritings: what is it that a mathematical education should achieve, what are the problems with and issues facing the current education in mathematics, and what means might be appropriate for addressing the problems in ways which increase the likelihood that the goal of a mathematical numerate soc iety can be achieved? Though no clear-cut answers to the questions were provided, proposals for ways tograpple with each of these questions were synthesized from the thirty-five papers and reports. The proposals present the perspectives of both the mat hematics education community (government ministries and agencies as well as mathematical associations) and the perspective of the world of work (business, industry, and government ministries of skills, labour and technology).
This is not negotiation, itis dialogue.
The Orangeville Group What should a mathematical education achieve?
The response to this question from the mathematics education academic community at first seems more narrowly focused than the response from the world of work. The concern in the academic community is with the strengthening of all levels of mathematics ed ucation from the elementary school to the graduateschool, while maintaining excellence in mathematics science research. However, this view is expanded by a belief that a strong mathematics education should connect the power of mathematics and mathematic al thinking to problems in science, technology and society. The Science Council of Canada goes even further when it argues that our economic and social prosperity depends on Canada's ability to meet...
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