Cambridge Mathematics Framework

Cambridge Mathematics started public discussion of their Framework. This deserves attention. A random quote:

The Cambridge Framework allows for identification of context in the following context types:
• pure (the problem situation is in the world of mathematics)
• academic (the problems arise in the context of academic
disciplines other than mathematics)
• everyday authentic (the problem situation might be met by someone in their everyday life using mathematics in ways that would commonly be used, for example in problems relating to personal finance)
• everyday artificial (problems posed in an everyday context using mathematics in ways that would not be typical in everyday practice)
• critical citizenship (for example, engaging mathematically
with data communicated in the media)
• vocational (situations and problems relating to contexts
involving employment).

We are keen to seek opinion on whether these distinctions would be helpful, in particular in designing and  distinguishing between assessments.

Geoff Smith on X + Y

Reposted from the UKMT’s Newsletter:

In March 2015, the film  X + Y  will appear in cinemas all over the UK. This is a romantic drama, and explores a collection of intense personal relationships. One of the main characters is a teenaged boy (played by Asa Butterfield) who competes enthusiastically in UKMT competitions, and who dreams of going to the International Mathematical Olympiad. Several leading actors decorate the cast (Sally Hawkins, Eddie Marsan, Rafe Spall, Jo Yang). The film was made with the co-operation of UKMT and the IMO, and logos and flags appear accordingly. The film has secured international distribution contracts, and will be seen in many countries, and on airlines.

This film grew out of the BBC2 documentary “Beautiful Young Minds”, and the common director is Morgan Matthews. If UKMT were to make such a film (an exceptionally bad suggestion), the emphasis would be much more on the mathematics and less on the relationships. Morgan Matthews has become very interested in the way people on the autistic spectrum can prosper in mathematics. There has been a natural concern in the maths community that portraying some mathematicians as being less than socially fluent is dangerous, because it could lead to the misapprehension that mathematicians are all strange.

My personal view is that the prefix “mis” in the previous sentence can be deleted. All mathematicians are strange because they place such an exceptional value on thought, ideas and understanding. I think that the maths community should be proud of the way it embraces people on the basis of their enthusiasm for and interest in mathematics. University maths departments are happy places, where the socially adroit rub along in harmony with people who live in more private spaces. The trick is mutual respect and affection. This is equally true of UKMT maths camps. Most students are relaxed and outgoing, with the full set of skills that allow them to prosper in the teenage social maelstrom. Some others are not, but everyone gets along almost all of the time, united by a passion for ideas and ingenuity. We all know maths people who sometimes appear confused and nervous, but who have beautiful mathematical insights.

Things would be even better if women and all racial groups were richly represented in the maths community, and UKMT has done excellent work on the gender issue by founding the European Girls’ Mathematical Olympiad and running the annual talent search examination, the UK Maths Olympiad for Girls. The mentoring schemes make an excellent education in mathematical problem solving available to all social groups. However, while social inclusion is very much “work in progress”, the incorporation of people on the autistic spectrum into the wider maths community seems to be a great success, and in my view, a cause for celebration.

Geoff Smith, Chair of the BMO and the IMO, University of Bath.

Disclaimer: Geoff was involved in assisting to make X + Y, so his views are not impartial.

Steven Strogatz: Whi Pi Matters

Our American colleagues celebrate today Pi Day, although, technically speaking, it is American Pi Day: for the rest of the world, today is 14/03/14. A brilliant article by Steven Strogartz in The New Yorker, a brief quote:

What distinguishes pi from all other numbers is its connection to cycles. For those of us interested in the applications of mathematics to the real world, this makes pi indispensable. Whenever we think about rhythms—processes that repeat periodically, with a fixed tempo, like a pulsing heart or a planet orbiting the sun—we inevitably encounter pi. There it is in the formula for a Fourier series: […]

Read the whole article.

Cameron’s £15,000 for maths and science teachers

From BBC:

David Cameron is to announce a £15,000 university bursary for teenagers with good A-level maths and science grades, if they commit to enter teaching.

This “golden hello” for teenagers is an attempt to recruit more maths and physics teachers for England’s schools. […]

These will begin with pilot projects, with a so far unspecified number of places, which will see incentives for young people to sign up for teaching before going to university.

The £15,000 over three years for potential teachers would help with living costs and would be repayable if students did not go on to teach for three years after graduating

Read full article.

NRICH Programme Director (Fixed Term)

NRICH Programme Director (Fixed Term)

Salary: £51,702-£54,841 p.a.

Closing date: 26 March 2015

The Faculty of Education at the University of Cambridge is seeking to appoint a full-time Director of the very high-profile NRICH mathematics project (http://nrich.maths.org),

NRICH is a successful and vibrant project, supporting teachers and students nationally and internationally. NRICH offers rich online mathematical resources for teachers and learners from Early Years to Key Stage 5, and support and professional development for teachers. The NRICH website currently attracts more than 6 million visits and around 30 million pageviews per year and the NRICH team also works with thousands of teachers and pupils each year through face-to-face activities.

The Director is responsible for the strategic and day-to-day management of the project and leading the exceptional NRICH team. Responsibilities include day-to-day project management and administration; project planning and development; and overseeing and contributing to the development of content for the NRICH website and the delivery of professional development for teachers. The NRICH Director is also responsible for developing and maintaining links with key organisations and the wider educational community, and plays a key role in helping the project contribute to the national mathematics education agenda.

The successful candidate will share NRICH’s vision of mathematics as a rich, creative subject. They will have a first degree in mathematics or a closely related subject; a Masters or doctoral qualification in mathematics, mathematics education or a closely related subject would be an advantage; a teaching qualification and substantial mathematics teaching experience, together with a thorough knowledge of the UK school system, including educational administration and assessment procedures; considerable prior experience of creating mathematics enrichment resources and mathematics teaching and learning materials; considerable prior experience in the development and delivery of professional development for teachers; excellent leadership and teamwork skills; excellent communication and interpersonal skills; and a demonstrable interest in the use of the internet and new technologies in education.

NRICH is part of the Millennium Mathematics Project (maths.org), involving staff employed by both the Faculty of Education and the Faculty of Mathematics. The post is held within the Faculty of Education but physically based in the Faculty of Mathematics in central Cambridge. An important part of the role involves building strong working relationships within the University and externally.

Some travel to schools, conferences and other venues nationally and internationally will be required.

For full information please download the further particulars for the post at http://www.jobs.cam.ac.uk/job/6102

How to apply:

Applications must be submitted online. To apply online for this vacancy and to download the further particulars for the role, please visit http://www.jobs.cam.ac.uk/job/6102

Fixed-term: The funds for this post are available for 3 years in the first instance.

Once an offer of employment has been accepted, the successful candidate will be required to undergo an enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service check.

Please quote reference JR05278 on your application and in any correspondence about this vacancy.

Retain Alan Turing’s Notebook for the Nation

E-petition launched by Professor S. Barry Cooper:

On January 19, 2015, the FT reported that “A notebook belonging to the man known as the father of the computing age is expected to fetch at least $1m at auction. Alan Turing’s notebook is thought to date from 1942, when the Briton was leading the cryptanalysts at Bletchley Park in the battle to break the German Enigma codes, the period of his life covered in the Oscar-nominated film ‘The Imitation Game’. The notebook containing 56 pages of handwritten notes was among papers that Turing left to his friend and fellow mathematician Robin Gandy. Cassandra Hatton, senior specialist at Bonhams, called the notebook, ‘probably the most extensive manuscript that exists in Turing’s hand. To be able to look in and see his thought processes is extremely important.”
We call on the Government to liaise with the Science Museum and other major British institutions, to assist in buying this important item, and protecting it for viewing by the British people and international visitors.

If you are a UK citizen, sign the petition.

Barry Cooper’s article in Guardian Northerner.

The Alan Turing Year website

 

David Mumford on Grothendieck and magazine “Nature”

Can one explain schemes to biologists

December 14, 2014

John Tate and I were asked by Nature magazine to write an obituary for Alexander Grothendieck. Now he is a hero of mine, the person that I met most deserving of the adjective “genius”. I got to know him when he visited Harvard and John, Shurik (as he was known) and I ran a seminar on “Existence theorems”. His devotion to math, his disdain for formality and convention, his openness and what John and others call his naiveté struck a chord with me.

So John and I agreed and wrote the obituary below. Since the readership of Nature were more or less entirely made up of non-mathematicians, it seemed as though our challenge was to try to make some key parts of Grothendieck’s work accessible to such an audience. Obviously the very definition of a scheme is central to nearly all his work, and we also wanted to say something genuine about categories and cohomology. Here’s what we came up with:

Continue reading

Andreas Schleicher: Seven big myths about top-performing school systems

A paper by Andreas Schleicher, , at the BBC website. The list of “seven big myths”:

  1. Disadvantaged pupils are doomed to do badly in school
  2. Immigrants lower results
  3. It’s all about money
  4. Smaller class sizes raise standards
  5. Comprehensive systems for fairness, academic selection for higher results
  6. The digital world needs new subjects and a wider curriculum
  7. Success is about being born talented

In my [AB] humble opinion,  this appears to be the case when the negations of myths are myths, too (with a possible exception of no. 7). School systems cannot, and should not, be compared without first having a close look at socio-economic, cultural, and political environments of their home countries.

University Mathematics in Perspective

University Mathematics in Perspective

29th Residential Course for Sixth Form Students
Wednesday 24 – Friday 26 June 2015
University of Leeds, Devonshire Hall

Click here for more details.

Sample lectures include:

“Polyhedra” – John Truss
“Mathematics and Card Cheating” – Kevin Houston
“Funny Fluids and Soft Stuff” – Daniel Read
“The Taccoma BridgeOliver Harlen
SupernovaeSam Falle