Report of the International Seminar of the Park City Mathematics Institute
Sharing Experiences Group
July 4-5, 2004
Representatives from countries who participated in the Park City Mathematics Institute's International Seminars (2001, 2002, and 2003) gathered at the Tenth International Congress on Mathematical Education (ICME-10) in Copenhagen for two seminar sessions as part of the Congress's Sharing Experiences Groups. Fifteen past seminar participants from Brazil, Ecuador, Egypt, France, Iran, Japan, New Zealand, the Republic of Northern Ireland, Romania, and the United States were present along with new visitors from Korea and Russia. PCMI supported the attendance of the educators from Iran and Ecuador. Work completed during and following the PCMI International Seminars was briefly summarized. As discussed in prior reports, the seminar in 2001 covered a variety of topics, while the meeting in 2002 focused on teacher preparation and that in 2003 continued with the teacher preparation theme.
The group enthusiastically endorsed the international seminars. They described them as intimate gatherings that allowed free expression of ideas and issues. The felt that working together at the seminars helped to create a network of colleagues who continue to draw on each other as resources outside of the seminar. They also valued the way that the exchange of similarities and unique aspects of mathematics education from different countries provided ideas for improvement in their own countries. Examples from the latter category related to textbooks and their use; testing and its use; aspects of teacher preparation; and centralization versus decentralization of education. Factors contributing to the success of the seminars were their size, openness, common look at topics as seen in the reports prepared, and the inclusion of people who are not official representatives of their country in discussions about efforts in their countries. They also appreciated the rare opportunity for university professors and teachers to engage in dialogue about the issues they face and their efforts to address them within their specific work settings, in the larger context their country, and as members of the international community.
A major portion of the last PCMI session at ICME was spent considering ideas for the future directions for the seminar. These ideas helped to narrow the list of potential topics that were discussed on September 28, 2004. The list that resulted from the input from past participants included:
- Sharing best practices and conditions (e.g., mentoring in the United States).
- Identifying common dilemmas and proposing solutions-either local or global (e.g., the use of materials and resources in some African countries).
- Identifying policies and needed changes (e.g., "streaming" by ability in Romania).
- Planning international programs such as ICME-11 in Mexico.
- Distilling and disseminating research for all.
- Focusing on specific areas where comparison is possible (e.g., integration in the curriculum).
- Writing issue briefs on specific problems or questions.