Here is a teacher, because of her love for her subject, had the privilege of attending an international conference. Dr. Revathy Parameswaran (94449 07456), a maths education researcher, has done research about how students understand mathematics. She found her way to the 12th International Congress on Mathematical Education (ICME) at Seoul, which was held between July 8 and 15.

ICME is organised once in 4 years under the auspices of the International Commission on Mathematical Instruction of the International Mathematical Union. The aim of the Congress is to present the current trends in mathematics education research and in the practice of mathematics teaching at all levels.

At Seoul

Throwing light about various events of the meet, Ms. Revathy said that the participants were from a broad spectrum — researchers in mathematics education, teacher trainers, practicing teachers, mathematicians, and a number of others interested in mathematics education. “The congress had plenary activities, lectures, discussion groups, workshops, talks on current trends in teaching methods and research methodologies pertaining to mathematics education.

Ms. Revathy presented a paper on her research findings on learning and cognition. The paper dealt with how a research mathematician understands the subject and its pedagogical implications.

Interactions

The congress which had 3,000 people was divided into groups according to their area of research interest. Ms. Revathy was part of a group (50 members from different countries) which dealt with learning and cognition. The group interacted about different kinds of research opportunities in India. They also wanted to know how her research could be used in classroom situations.

Ms. Revathy found the plenary talk — comparative study between mathematic education in the countries in the east and west globally — very useful. The discussions revolved around how teaching is more teacher-centric (the nuances of the subject are dealt elaborately by the teacher) in the east and learner-centric (the teacher only acts as a facilitator to explore the subject and find their own solutions to problems) in the west.

According to Ms. Revathy, the way people in the west dealt the subject would enable the students to solve difficult problems.

“Even from a very young age, children are taught to think logically and analytically. They make organised list, observe patterns and work backwards with problems. All this would enable them to tackle the subject in a novel way and motivate them to enter into the research field.”

She also felt that unlike in India, the western way of teaching children in smaller groups, with a lot of interaction between the teacher and the wards and among the peers will help instil creativity.

Carnival

Apart from the plenary talks there were several other events attended by Ms. Revathy. Some dealt with technology in mathematics education, teacher education, primary education, secondary education and tertiary education. She was particularly impressed with a mathematics carnival. Here several countries, including India, had put up stalls which highlighted about how maths had developed in their countries. Professors from the University of Hyderabad, IIT Guwahathi and Homi Bhabha Institute-Mumbai, were in charge of the Indian stall.

“Charts, models and games showed how the subject gained importance in India and the different methods used to teach the subject. Our stall also had a movie which featured teachers of P.S. Sr. Sec. School, showing how kolams are helpful to study and teach patterns, symmetry, modular arithmetic, and various mathematical operations,” she said.

Maths plaza, live classrooms from Japan, China and Hong Kong, were all part of the carnival. “It was a great opportunity for teachers of other countries to learn from the carnival,” concluded Ms. Revathy.

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