Changing the Culture 2008

Changing the Culture 2008:
Mathematics: Beauty and Utility

April 18, 2008
SFU at Harbour Centre
515 Hastings Street, Vancouver


Conference Programme

8:00 Registration

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

9:00 M is not Mary: Variables from grade 3 to 13, John T. Baldwin,
University of Illinois at Chicago
(Room 1900, Fletcher Challenge Theatre)
Abstract: We will consider several increasingly sophisticated versions of the same problem and how one thinks (or doesn't) about variables at various ages. This involves several approaches to the infamous work problem. If Joe can do a job in three hours and Mary in only two, how long does it take the two of them? We give a sense in which these problems are not as silly as they are sometimes thought.

10:00 Coffee Break
(Room 1400 Segal Centre)

10:30 Workshops ABC, Part II

12:00 PIMS Award Ceremony: Presentation of the 2008 PIMS Education Prize
(Room 1900 Fletcher Challenge Theatre)

12:30 Lunch
(Room 1400 Segal Centre)

13:30 Workshops ABC, Part II

14:30 Panel Discussion: Transitions to University
* Rajiv Gupta, UBC
* Jamie Mulholland, SFU
* Ginger Warfield, U. Washington
* Harley Weston, U. Regina
(Room 1900, Fletcher Challenge Theatre)

16:00 Coffee Break

16:30 Mathematics as Experience: Challenging Aesthetic Elitism in Society, Nathalie Sinclair,
Simon Fraser University.
(Room 1900, Fletcher Challenge Theatre)
Abstract: Words such as beauty and elegance are frequently used in descriptions of mathematics--especially by mathematicians! But these words rarely apply in school mathematics. Are children incapable of appreciating mathematical beauty? Are their own aesthetic inclinations inappropriate in the mathematics classroom? This talk will explore the conflicting answers to these questions and will reveal some of the assumptions that lead to the vision of the mathematical aesthetic as an elistist enterprise of ivory-tower mathematics.

17:30 Closing Remarks
(Room 1900, Fletcher Challenge Theatre)


The Lesson Study Experience

Workshop A: Melania Alvarez, Fred Hardwood, Paulino Preciado, Natasa Sirotic
Abstract: In this workshop participants will experience some aspects of Lesson Study. The Japanese developed Lesson Study as a practice by which teaching and learning is being continuously improved through research and experience of what goes on in the classroom. Lesson Study brings together mathematicians, mathematics educators and teachers, who work together as a team on designing individual lessons, observing student reactions to these lessons, and then discussing and reflecting upon these experiences. Some of the outcomes of this process are understanding students' mathematical thinking, improved teachers' knowledge of content and instructional strategies, refinement of curriculum towards one that has high expectations of students and is yet attainable by all because of its coherence, development of textbooks and teacher education programs.

Math Elementary Teachers need to Know Part II

Workshop B: Malgorzata Dubiel, Susan Milner, Susan Oesterle

Abstract: This workshop is a continuation of the discussions which started at the 2007 Changing the Culture conference. We asked then how an ideal course for elementary school teachers should look like? Is there a specific math content that is essential for students to learn? Or is it more important to focus such course on what is the nature of mathematical thinking, mathematical understanding? What are we doing and can we do it better?

What's Your Problem: What Can Students Learn through Problem Solving

Workshop C: Justin Gray, Jamie Mulholland

Abstract: Problem solving is a very effective way to learn mathematics and mathematical thinking. The effectiveness of this approach begins with a careful selection of good problems: problems that are generalizable and can be solved in many different ways.
The workshop will discuss how to choose problems to support learning objectives, to motivate students, introduce various mathematical concepts, and initiate discussions. We will be sharing our favourite problems from the SFU FAN X99, Calculus and Math for Teachers courses. We hope that the participants will bring their favourite problems to share with others.


Coming soon!

Previous Changing the Culture Conferences


For more information, contact conference organizer, Malgorzata Dubiel, dubiel at