Mathematics in Commonwealth Schools

Mathematics in Commonwealth Schools

Report of a Specialist Conference held at the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine, Trinidad, September 1968 You do not have access to this content

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Commonwealth Science Council
01 Jan 1969
9781848591684 (PDF)

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This report aims to help those concerned to further mathematical education, at all levels, in Commonwealth countries.

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  • Foreword

    It is a pleasure to commend this report to all who are concerned with mathematical education. Two weeks is all too short a period of time for delegates from a variety of countries to be able to lift their eyes from their own pressing problems, to look at those of their fellow delegates, and then to come together in an understanding of common aims and objectives in their various educational programmes. It is a tribute to the educational ties which bind us in the Commonwealth, and to all the individual delegates, that in two weeks not only was there felt to be a common purpose in the work of the Conference, but also that the groundwork of this report could be laid so firmly.

  • Conference Arrangements

    The First Commonwealth Education Conference held at Oxford, England, in 1959, was followed, in 1961, by a Conference of Commonwealth experts on The Teaching of English as a Second Language. It was held at what was then Makerere College in Uganda. In view of the success of this Conference, the Second Commonwealth Education Conference, held in New Delhi in January 1962, considered whether, and on what terms, it was desirable to hold conferences of experts in other subjects.

  • The Work of the Conference

    The selection of mathematics as the subject of the 1968 Commonwealth Conference was particularly timely. School mathematics is passing through an epoch of change unprecedented in its range and pace. It involves more than a few innovations.

  • Fundamental Ideas and Objectives of Mathematical Education

    I am deeply indebted to the organizers of this Commonwealth Conference on Mathematics in Schools for having invited me to present the lead paper in this first session. I regard this invitation as a great honour, a great challenge, and a great opportunity. Yet, I must confess, I am also very much embarrassed by it.

  • The Teaching of Mathematics at Primary Level

    Mathematics is an abstract subject, and because of this, in the past, it induced fear in both young children and students. But in the last ten years there has been a fundamental change of outlook and the new generation is no longer condemned to a complete diet of instruction by teachers (however good). Nowadays, pupils are encouraged far more to think for themselves and they investigate mathematical problems in individual and sometimes highly original ways.

  • Mathematics in Secondary Schools

    Mathematics teachers are at present doing what philosophers urge - asking what we do, why and whether we should. In an age of calculating machines need children know multiplication tables? Should we teach manipulation in algebra? If so, how much? Are logarithms obsolete? Should we teach trigonometry at all? If so, why? What parts of recent mathematics ought to come into the school syllabus? What should go out to make room for new topics? More fundamental, what considerations should determine our choice of syllabus?

  • Assessment of Children's Progress, and Evaluation of Programmes: Purpose and Method

    A few years ago it was apparently easy to examine candidates in mathematics and it seemed comparatively simple to evaluate the mathematics curriculum. Twenty years ago at the primary school level the content of the teaching was confined to arithmetic and the debate was in terms of conventional testing of mechanical and problem arithmetic contrasted with objective, multiple choice tests. The latter could be demonstrated to be more consistent and reliable than the former but both kinds of examination in mathematics appeared to be more reliable than similar procedures in other subjects, particularly English.

  • Teachers: Selection; Initial and Subsequent Training

    The word “training” is used not only in such contexts as “teacher training” but also in other contexts such as “training of doctors and engineers” on the one hand and “training of semi-skilled craftmen” on the other. In many of these situations there is a period of training, very often in special institutions. A person completing a period of training successfully is believed to be capable of operating at higher levels of the cognitive, psychomotor and affective domains with an enhanced store of knowledge.

  • Resources for Learning Mathematics

    I am both pleased and mystified by the invitation of the Organising Committee to address this Conference on the topic “Resources for Learning Mathematics”. I am pleased, because the invitation has given me the stimulus to gather together and think about some of the many books and papers on this topic, and because of the unexpected opportunity to meet and exchange ideas with so many Commonwealth leaders in mathematical education; I am mystified, because I do not believe that I have ever made any significant contribution to the development, use, or assessment of any of the resources mentioned in the title of my topic, and I cannot imagine why I should have been asked to speak on this topic to a conference of experts.

  • Commonwealth Co-operation in Education

    National boundaries have never been iron curtains for education. The crossfertilization of educational ideas has been a feature of scholarship over the centuries but whereas in medieval times most of this cross-fertilization occured through the involuntary journeys which scholars often found themselves compelled to take for the preservation of knowledge, the last few decades have seen developed a conscious and planned effort at international co-operation.

  • Appendices
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