Friday, September 11, 2009

PM's apology to codebreaker Alan Turing: we were inhumane

There's an interesting article in today's Guardian on a long overdue apology from the British government to gay mathematician Alan Turing, who committed suicide after being chemically castrated by the government.

The story of his life is a reminder of how mathematics can have an important role in society (in this case: in war) and how homophobia may blind people and governments even when faced with genius.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Article: The emerging practice of a novice teacher: The roles of his school mathematics images

Jeppe Skott: The emerging practice of a novice teacher: The roles of his school mathematics images, Journal of Mathematics Teacher Education (2001) 4: 3-28.

From a project with four novice teachers including classroom observation and interviews, the author has chosen two episodes from one of the teachers, which sheds light on the connection between the teacher's "school mathematics images" (SMI) ("teachers' idiosyncratic priorities in relation to mathematics, mathematics as a school subject and the teaching and learning of mathematics in school") and their teaching.

The episodes can be interpreted to show that a teacher may very well do things during his teaching that clashes with his stated SMI, because other concerns are more pressing. In this article, one such concern was to build the confidence of a particular student - thus getting the right answer got more important than a full understanding of the process. On the other hand, the author worries that the actions in such situations may be copied to situations in which the more pressing concerns are not present.

The author also introduces another TLA (three letter acronym): CIP. A CIP is a "critical incident of practice", "an instance of [his] decision making in which multiple and possibly conflicting motives of his activity evolved; that were critical to his SMIs; and that were critical to the future development of the classroom interaction and for the students' learning opportunities".