I stand for election for the third (and final) term as a Member-at-Large mostly because I personally feel, and am very concerned, that in policy discussions on mathematics education, the voice of unversity mathematicians is not heard.
I had a chance to compare the working of the Programme Committee, on which I previously served, and Education Committee, on which I am serving now; in my opinion, Education Committee needs a serious change. Crucially, I feel that Council and Education Committee need a better understanding of education priorities.
Therefore I invite all LMS members to join a discussion of education policy on this blog; all posts here are open for comment.
I suggest ACME’s recent proposal (see http://www.acme-uk.org/downloaddoc.asp?id=228) to extend mathematics provision at schools to all 16-19 old students as a starting point for our discussion. This is a divisive issue: Chris Budd, judging by his statement in this blog, supports this idea, while Tony Gardiner and I assess it as a well-intended but naive and uncosted dream that in the current economic climate will lead to re-distribution of scarce resources away from Mathematics A-levels, thus damaging university level mathematics education.
But what should be the LMS’ response? In my opinion, the current procedures for formulation LMS’ policy are unsatisfactory. I believe that the role of the LMS as a membership charity and its Council should be, first of all,
- listen to the LMS membership;
- formulate consensus points of its members’ collective expert opinion on those aspect of education policy that affect university level mathematical education;
- as a minimal requirement, avoid supporting positions not shared by the majority of LMS members.
As a membership charity which has advancement of mathematics as a charitable objective, we need to focus on areas and aspects of education policy where other players in the field have no expertise or motivation for carrying out a detailed and deep analysis. Of course, this includes, first of all,
- University level mathematical education, including service teaching of mathematics;
- PhD training in mathematics;
- Training and professional development of university lecturers in mathematics.
But as major stakeholders in school level mathematics education, we should also look at
- content of school mathematics, its level and quality;
- mathematical skills actually acquired by university entrants during their school study;
- format of school examinations and a value system instilled in students by the assessment system.
Your opinion? Please contribute your thoughts.