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Sitting at the airport, keen now to get home after eight days of keynotes, workshops, discussion groups, networking, and lots of food and drink. The metrics are impressive - 3486 maths educators and researchers from 109 countries, 1952 papers and 533 posters presented, 42 workshops and 38 discussion groups, of which Cambridge Maths facilitated one. The UK was well represented with 143 delegates, mostly from university faculties of education but a good smattering of others from subject associations, or hubs, or projects.
At the heart of ICME is learning from others. The 54 Topic Study Groups (TSGs) cover a wide range of areas of potential interest: from calculus to early algebra, digital technology to task design, ethnomathematics to proof. Membership of a TSG involves turning up for six sessions throughout the week and contributing - through offering a paper, presentation or activity - and contributing to the emerging discussion. I moved between early algebra and curriculum design and other team members joined task design and primary geometry.
Each day began with a plenary lecture given by a notable speaker. These were on topics of general interest and there were then a wide variety of other lectures to choose from. A highlight for me was the plenary by Bill Barton (of the Klein project) on 'Mathematics, education and culture: a contemporary moral imperative'. He spoke passionately of the necessity to see mathematics education not only as a passport to citizenship and prosperity, but as an enabler for a fairer and more moral society. He enlarged on the work of D'Ambrosio who 'exposed humans' responsibility to build a just and beautiful world on the dorsal spine of mathematics'. For Cambridge Maths this poses some interesting questions.
Another enjoyable plenary by Gunter Ziegler looked at answers to 'What is Mathematics?', including how public perceptions of maths have changed over time. This was the first time I had heard of Klein's 'double discontinuity' in maths teacher education - the first being the gap between school mathematics and that experienced at university, and the second gap when maths teachers move back from university into the classroom, where they then see no place for the content or methodology they have immersed themselves in at university. Another personal pleasure was the lecture given by Hugh Burkhardt following the presentation for the first time of the Emma Castelnuovo prize. Hugh and his colleague Malcolm Swan are both good friends of Cambridge Maths and have definitely influenced our thinking.
The Cambridge Maths team led two linked workshops during which we shared our thinking and progress so far, and posed questions which provoked useful discussions. This kind of feedback is so important to us in triangulating our work with those internationally who are working on curriculum projects.