Wednesday, August 4, 2010

ESU6 Day 5

The last day of the ESU was also the shortest. I skipped the plenary lecture to secure more time for packing, checking out of the hotel and so on. The lecture I missed was Fulvia Furinghetti and Livia Giacardini’s “From Rome to Rome: Events, People, and Numbers during ICMI’s First Century”.

I did, however, take part in Snezana Lawrence’s workshop “Digitising the past mathematics by the future mathematicians”. It concerned how working on earlier textbooks may be interesting for today’s schoolkids. For instance, they may be interested to see that earlier textbooks (based on Euclid), actually gave definitions in a way that are almost gone now. Nowadays, textbooks give explanations with pictures and words, perhaps making it less clear what is the core definition and what is examples or illustrations. The workshop did not, however, give a very clear idea of what Snezana thinks that the role of “digitising” should be in this. While I do see that students could learn from scanning and transcribing short portions of text and then making it publicly available, I’m not convinced that it is worth the time. (And the other members of my group in this workshop was rather convinced it was not worth the time.) However, the work we did in the workshop was a good illustration of some of the points Michael Glaubitz made in his plenary lecture.


That marks the end of the conference. It was hard work. I leave the conference inspired and with a wish to continue working on history of mathematics. However, I also think that I was a bit too busy at this conference. In the end, I got to choose five of the workshops, but none of the oral presentations (I was always either speaking or being a chair). Having presentations on three of the days (one oral presentation, one workshop and one panel) is a bit too much also, both in the weeks ahead of the conference and in the conference itself.

I look forward to the HPM Meeting in Korea in 2012 and the ESU7 in Spain (maybe) in 2014.

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