The National Committee for Mathematics at the Royal Swedish Academy of Science has set up a committee for mathematical education. The purpose is to work for an improved education in mathematics at all levels at school and at colleges and universities. The aims are to generate an increased interest in mathematics amongst pupils and students and an improved recruitment to studies in mathematics in upper secondary school and in universities.
The committee for education consists of ten members who, as a whole, possess broad experience of mathematical education at all levels. The chairman of the Swedish Committee for Mathematical Education is Professor Hans Wallin of Umeå University.
At the international level, the committee for education functions as a sub-committee of the International Commission on Mathematical Instruction (ICMI). In this context, the committee is called ICMI-Sweden. The task of ICMI-Sweden is to encourage Swedish participation in the activities of ICMI and to spread information about ICMI and its work in Sweden.
As stated, the committee for education is to work for improvements of the mathematical education at all levels, from pre-school to postgraduate studies. It is also to contribute to public discussion of mathematical education in primary and secondary school and in colleges and universities. A particularly important objective of the committee is to tear down the wall that has emerged between primary and secondary school, on the one hand, and universities, on the other hand, in the field of mathematical education.
The most important resource for good mathematical education is well educated teachers. The quality of the training of mathematics teachers is decisive for the improvement of mathematical education. The committee for education will therefore work for teacher training of high standards. The committee will also promote research in the didactics of mathematics which is in progress in Sweden. Yet another task will be to stimulate discussion of the role of mathematics in society.
The committee for education cooperates with other organizations of mathematics teachers and of mathematicians. It is involved in a continuous discussion of different issues with the Swedish Ministry of Education and Cultural Affairs, the Board of Education and the National Agency for Higher Education. Measures proposed by these authorities are submitted to the committee for consideration.
The committee for education was formed in November 1996. The first more visible activity will be a course which will be held at the well-known Mittag-Leffler Instituteoutside Stockholm later this year. The course is called "Gilt-edged mathematics" and is addressed primarily to upper secondary school teachers. One of the main purposes of the course is to foster opportunities for contacts between upper secondary school teachers and people who do research in mathematics.
During the last year, there has been a lively discussion in the newspapers and in other contexts on the insufficient previous training in mathematics among first year students at Swedish universities of technology. The members of the committee have participated in this discussion in different ways.
The committee has had informal contacts with ministries and authorities in order to influence current issues, such as the development of curricula for compulsory school, the reform of postgraduate studies, and the overhaul of the teacher's training, which have been initiated by the Swedish Parliament.
A resource centre for the didactics of mathematics is being established. It is accessible on the Internet.
The Swedish Committee for Mathematical Education, ICMI-Sweden, constituted by decision of the Swedish National Committee for Mathematics, on the 27th of November 1996, has the following tasks:
to initiate and maintain a discussion of the role of mathematics in society and of the aims for mathematical education at all levels in school and in colleges and universities;
to function as a link between ICMI, the International Commission on Mathematical Instruction, and people who work with mathematical education in Sweden, in order to disseminate knowledge of the activities of ICMI, and to encourage Swedish contributions to these;
to support the growth of research and development work in the didactics of mathematics in Sweden;
to contribute to increased international contacts among groups in Sweden which are engaged in mathematical education;
to create a forum that serves to increase the contacts and the exchange of thoughts between mathematics teachers at school, and those working in teacher training programs, at colleges and at universities;
to assist in identifying problems in mathematical education, and in mapping and analyzing deficiencies in the recruitment for studies in mathematics at upper secondary school level and for undergraduate and postgraduate studies at university level;
to spread knowledge of good examples of, and successful methods for, improvements ofthe quality of mathematical education and the recruitment to it.
The Swedish Committee for Mathematical Education is associated with the international organization ICMI which, in turn, is a commission within IMU, the International Mathematical Union. The Swedish Committee for Mathematical Education cooperates with the Swedish National Committee for Mathematics on issues that are of mutual interest.
The Swedish Committee for Mathematical Education consists of a minimum of 7 and a maximum of 12 members. These are either mathematics teachers at primary or secondary school, or in teacher training or postgraduate programs, or are engaged in research in the field of mathematics.
The committee is elected by the Swedish National Committee for Mathematics for a period of four years. The National Committee appoints one of its members as Chairman.
Additional information about ICMI-Sweden may be obtained from its secretary, Gerd Brandell, gerd@sm.luth.se.