Below is the uncorrected machine-read text of this chapter, intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text of each book. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.
OVERVIEW OF THE CONFERENCE John Dossey Illinois State University This conference on the education of teachers of mathematics was designed to provide a forum for four aspects of change now being advocated in mathematics instruction. These aspects are: the gen- eral reform movement in mathematics education and the emergence of a national standards board for subject matter areas; the appearance of draft copies of the Mathematical Sciences Education Board's (MSEB's) curriculum framework and philosophy document and the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics' (NCTM's) standards for school mathema- tics; the support bases for changes in teaching at the school, local, and state levels; and the formulation of guidelines for teacher educa- tion programs by the Mathematical Association of America (MAA) and NCTM. All of these issues resulted in a packed agenda and excellent attendance. The consensus of the participants was that the meeting represented an important step in providing facts and opinions required for the early stages of each of the four major issues under discussion. Shirley Hill's opening talk set the stage for consideration of the issues of change that already are affecting teacher education programs and the performance of teachers in the classroom. Her re- marks about the national reports on education, the goals envisioned for teaching as a profession, and the movement to establish national professional standards for teaching sounded the keynotes of the con- ference . These topics were underscored and expanded by Rick Marks in his comments on the formative work taking place at Stanford Univer- sity under the leadership of Lee Shulman. This group is attempting to identify important concepts, procedures, and knowledge that ef- fective teachers must employ in imparting mathematical skills and ideas to their students. Initial efforts have focused on the devel- opment of prototype exercises that might be used in the assessment of teachers' strengths in various areas of mathematics teaching. Mr. Marks outlined many of the probable contributions to be made by the center at Stanford, including detailed descriptions of the prototype assessment activities for mathematics. The model shown in the video tapes and discussed in his remarks indicated that emphasis is being placed on "what teachers need to know and what teachers must be able to do" in the teaching of mathematics. This presentation was followed by Albert Shanker's luncheon ad- dress on his vision of changes in the teaching and learning of math- ematics. This vision, which is consistent with those of the MSEB cur- riculum framework and the NCTM standards, predicts future progress in teaching being made in an environment that promotes increased knowl- edge and higher goals for students. The changes envisioned may in- volve school entrance ages, the packaging of curriculum, and the delivery of instruction. -1-
- 2 - The afternoon session dealt with specific recommendations for change in the mathematics curriculum and was highlighted by the remarks of Thomas Cooney. He provided a challenging, in-depth analysis of the prospects for change outlined in the conceptual models developed by Fred Goffree and William Perry. He pointed out some of the hurdles that must be cleared if we are to achieve the basic instructional and philosophical goals of the new curricula. His remarks were pointed, well-founded, and cited the major tasks that must be undertaken if "mathematical power" is to become a reality in our classrooms. The following morning, participants heard presentations on ways in which teachers can change and the support required for such changes to occur. June Yamashita reviewed her study of winners of the Presidential Award for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathema- tics. Her findings showed that professional activity played a major role in the continued learning and development of these individuals. Further, they seemed to build their own networks to support their professional growth. These observations were echoed by Magdalene Lampert in her remarks about the distance between the ideal and the realities of the mathematics classroom. She described clearly the distance between what is possible and what is happening now. She also listed the challenges that must be addressed to narrow this discontinuity in mathematics education. These challenges may hold the key to moving teachers from the mechanistic, textbook-bound setting to the reflective, problem-solving mode envisioned by many reformers. Jack Price and Ted Sanders provided outlines of what local districts and states can do to support teachers in building networks and in gaining access to continuing education for the teaching of mathematics. Both stressed the importance of allowing teachers to have a voice in setting the agendas for change. They also discussed the need to support teachers during their early professional years through induction programs designed to foster increased competence in dealing with the day-to-day problems of the classroom. The program closed with a useful and lively discussion of the guidelines for the continuing education of mathematics teachers proposed by NCTM and MAA. The Challenge The challenge that remains for those in attendance, as well as for those who read these proceedings, is to continue the discussion, to analyze the issues, and to become active in the reform of teaching philosophy and methods. This transitional process will require
- 3 - attention to the implications of change, the development of cur- ricula- -both for students and for teachers, the creation of supporting networks for teachers involved in change, and the establishment of criteria that define the bounds for professional mathematics educators working in the schools of our nation. As mathematics educators, we must move to a consensus of what we need to do to make these changes, to define the appropriate inter- actions between such changes, and to implement new visions of cur- ricular assessment and programmatic changes in school mathematics. The situation of the individual teacher in the classroom will not alter until more basic reforms are made in administration, schedul- ing, and expectation. The pronouncements of teacher education specialists and teacher organizations alone will not alter condi- tions . Change in one part of the educational system will not be enough. All aspects of the nation's educational infrastructure must be altered to meet the new educational needs of our country. We can delay no longer in starting to overhaul the engine that fuels our children's minds and drives our nation's competitive edge forward in the world's economy.