Hard to believe that a year has already gone by since I went to my first Global Teachers’ Meeting to support Casio Education initiatives. Looking back on my post from August 2015, A Global Perspective, I still felt that same sense of awe being in a room with teachers from all over the world – Algeria, France, Belgium, Japan, Australia, Finland, Germany, China, England, Italy, Spain…..A regular United Nations of math teachers!
This year the meeting was not held in Japan, as it normally is, but in Hamburg, Germany. This was due to the fact that ICME (International Congress for Mathematics Education) was being held at the University of Hamburg during the same week, so Casio, a big sponsor of ICME, wanted the two events to coincide. ICME only happens every 4 years, and I was fortunate enough to attend a couple days of the ICME conference – a math conference very different than an NCTM conference. This conference is all about researchers sharing their work and math educators collaborating and discussing the issues surrounding math education. I have a lot of reading to do because some of the research I heard about was fascinating.
My take aways’ from this years Global Teacher Meeting (GTM) was again how diverse math education is in other countries, and how culture and government of education really impacts how and what is taught. Many countries have a Ministry of Education, and therefore all schools within that country are governed by the curriculum, resources, and assessments that the Ministry of Education defines. This is different from the United States, where, even though we have the Department of Education, every state controls what happens in their states, and often control is even given to individual schools. This explains why it is so difficult to enact change in United States schools because we have so many different governing bodies defining education and there is rarely any real commonality. It also, in my opinion, explains why it really is unfair for us to compare our education to many other countries since it is such a vastly different ‘thing’.
There are many other differences – respect for the teaching profession is much higher in many countries than in the US, there is more consistent use and access to technology, and a more pervasive use of diverse, inquiry-based, problem-solving focused strategies for teaching mathematics – it’s all very different. But, what is very apparent and similar in these Global Teacher Meetings, is how dedicated all the teachers from every country are to their students, to providing quality education and math instruction, and in their belief that technology is a necessary tool in supporting mathematics learning. I think I said it last year, and it’s still true this year – Casio is number one in these countries. These teachers are using Casio calculators, particularly the Classwiz-fx-991 and the ClassPad, all the time. Pretty telling I think.
I came home this year from both the Casio GTM and my experience at ICME with renewed excitement about the possibilities for math education and integration of technology in mathematics instruction in a more equitable, pervasive way. I know Casio is really striving to get technology into the hands of every student to help bridge those access gaps. Much of the research I heard talked about the benefit of dynamic math capabilities and using technology to increase understand and expand problem-solving and critical thinking as students learn mathematics. I see great things happening this year – school starts just around the corner, so it’s a new beginning.
I leave you with a few images from Hamburg, Germany. I was very busy being a complete math and technology geek, so unfortunately did not see much of the beautiful city. But we did get a wonderful experience “on board” the beautiful, historic Rickmer Sailing boat, so here are some pictures from that experience.