Changing the Culture 2014: Fostering Curiosity

  • Date: 05/16/2014

SFU-Vancouver at Harbour Centre, 515 W. Hastings Street, Vancouver, Canada


The annual Changing the Culture Conference, organized and
sponsored by the Pacific Institute for the Mathematical Sciences, brings
together mathematicians, mathematics educators and school teachers from
all levels to work together towards narrowing the gap between
mathematicians and teachers of mathematics, and between those who do and
enjoy mathematics and those who think they don't.


Changing the Culture



The conference is free, but space is limited, and therefore registration will be required. Online registration is now available via this website.



Conference Program


8:00 Registration

8:45 Opening Remarks, Room 1900, Fletcher Challenge Theatre


9:00 Plenary Talk, Questions not Answers, Richard Hoshino, Quest University, Room 1900 Fletcher Challenge Theater

Why do so many children lose their natural curiosity when they grow
into adulthood? As one author argues, our modern-day education system
is largely to blame, where students are fed facts and formulas, and are
not given the space to take risks, make mistakes, and explore the
questions that are pertinent to their lives.

Since February 2013, I have taught math at Quest University Canada, a
small liberal arts university in Squamish, B.C. In this presentation,
I'll share the radical approach of Quest's math curriculum, which starts
with the students' questions, rather than the professor's answers.

I'll discuss how this unorthodox pedagogy has led to math-fearing
students inspiring social action (e.g. a new roommate-matching
algorithm), empowering students to realize that mathematics can help
them understand the world, their world, in a more meaningful way.


10:00 Coffee Break, Room 1400, Segal Center


10:30 Workshops A and B

Workshop A: Mathematical Habits of Mind, Susan Oesterle, Douglas College

The new draft BC Math Curriculum emphasises a focus on developing
"mathematical habits of mind". What are they? What does this mean for
what we do in our classrooms? What can we do to support our students
and each other? After a short intro to the notion of "mathematical
habits of mind", we'll use hands-on activities to explore this idea and
its implications for teaching mathematics.


Workshop B: Calculus Diagnostic Test: What Are We Learning? Justin Gray, Natalia Kouzniak, Cameron Morland, SFU

SFU has been giving a Calculus Diagnostic Test to all Calculus
students during the first week of classes for the past seven years, and
we have accumulated impressive statistics about students performance on
the test, and in their Calculus courses. What did we learn, and how is
this knowledge influencing our courses? What do we still need to learn?


12:00 PIMS Award Ceremony, 1900, Fletcher Challenge Theatre


12:30 Lunch, Room 1400, Segal Centre


13:30 Interactive Engagement in Large University Classes, Jamie Mulholland, SFU, 1900, Fletcher Challenge Theatre

14:00 Panel Discussion, 1900, Fletcher Challenge Theatre


15:30 Coffee Break


16:00 Plenary Talk, What Makes a Good Teaching Problem?, John Grant McLoughlin, University of New Brunswick, 1900, Fletcher Challenge Theatre

Teaching problems in my vocabulary refer to problems that are
pedagogically effective. These problems may illustrate the value of a
particular approach to problem solving. It may be the elegance of a
solution or hidden structural similarities to familiar problems or
counterintuitive results or even a surprising "unsolvability"
characteristic or...

Perhaps most surprising is that one rarely recognizes a good teaching
problem upon first sight. Rather an experience whether as a solver,
teacher, or bystander strikes a chord that awakens curiousity. The
desire to revisit a problem, share insights with others, or investigate
related ideas may arise from various sources: someone’s (method of)
solution; patterns leading to rich explorations/generalizations; an
aspect of brilliance; transferability as with the numerical problem that
lends itself to geometry, or vice-versa, to name a few. The common
element is that something about a problem is perceived to be
extraordinary, and hence, memorable.

The presentation will offer teaching problems that can be shared in
secondary and undergraduate mathematics classes, along with insights
into what gives them this quality. My teaching problems may not be
yours. Therefore, aspects of my biography and philosophy as both a
teacher and solver of mathematical problems will figure into this talk.

17:00 Concluding Remarks