Nesin Mathematics Village

The Nesin Mathematics Village is a small village of  about 13,5 acres, approximately 7,5 of which consist of olive groves. It is owned by the Nesin Foundation and is located 1 km away from the village of Şirince (tied to the Selçuk district of Izmir). Perched on a hillside and overflowing with greenery, it is a place where young and old learn, teach, and think about mathematics in peaceful remoteness. Unpretentious and unostentatious, the houses made out of rock, straw and clay give off a simple welcoming air.

Apart from the crickets, any factors which could prevent concentration and deep thought are kept away, there are no televisions, no music is publicly broadcasted. But traces of civilization such as electricity, warm water and wireless internet are nonetheless present. There is no shortage of insect life!

Most activities take place in the summer months; however in spring and autumn it is also an ideal environment for various types work groups, meetings and rest. It could for example be used as a place for an alumni reunion, a honeymoon in the “wild” or a mathematics workshop.

From teaching at the primary school level to the most advanced research, mathematical activities of any level can take place simultaneously at the village.

We now have the capacity to lodge 150 people, but there is the possibility of pitching tents if more capacity is required.

For more details please contact: Ceren Aydın (0533 207 12 04) cerenaydin@nesinvakfi.org

Why I an teaching a math circle

At some point, I have compiled a short list of reasons why I get a lot of satisfaction from teaching a math circle.  I love:

  • -the equality and feeling of mutual respect and attention that develops between me and math circle participants
  • the democracy/lack of authority that shows us the “right answer”
  • seeing the  value alignment and  deep intellectual friendship that develops among the participants
  • sharing children’s excitement when they realize their own powers
  • the feeling of freedom they develop when they get rid of their own mental blocks
  • the intellectual stimulation of choosing the problems and personalizing and  teaching them to a particular audience
  • when children  realize that they feel happy from doing a challenging job
  • observing their self-discovery
  • observing as children come up with amazing solutions and counter-intuitive discoveries
  • getting a fresh view of the beauty and awesomeness of the world we observe and create  - thus multiplying my own happiness

2014 Alan Turing Cryptography Competition

Registration is now open for the 2014 Alan Turing Cryptography Competition which starts on Monday, 27 January 2014.

Now in its third year, and organised by the School of Mathematics of the University of Manchester, this successful competition is open to secondary school children up to Year 11 (England and Wales), S4 (Scotland) and Year 12 (Northern Ireland). It is a great way for children to make use of their mathematical and problem-solving skills whilst having fun.  In addition, there is the opportunity to win some great prizes, which have been sponsored by the flight search company, Skyscanner. Skyscanner was set up by two former computer scientists from the University of Manchester, two people who directly benefitted from Turing‘s contributions to Manchester and computing.  People outside the age range can also take part, but they won’t be eligible for any prizes!

The competition follows the story of two young cipher sleuths, Mike and Ellie, as they get caught up in an adventure to discover the Lovell Legacy.  Every week or two weeks a new chapter of the story is released, each with a cryptographic puzzle to solve.  There are six chapters in total (plus an epilogue and just-for-fun code to conclude the story).  Points can be earned by cracking each code and submitting the answer.  The leaderboard enables the teams to keep track of how well they are doing.

New for this year is the Alan Turing Cryptography Day, to be held in the School of Mathematics  of the University of Manchester on Wednesday, 30th April 2014.  We anticipate plenty of code-breaking action, a live cryptography mini-challenge and a prize ceremony for the competition winners.  It’s not to be missed!

To register

Further information and registration details can be found at:

Rebecca Hanson: 2014 Primary Mathematics Curriculum is Not Fit for Purpose

Re-posted from Authentic Maths.

Rebecca Hanson:

Following the writing of my first report on the 2014 Primary National Curriculum in December I have been corresponding with the key people involved in its development.

As a results of their comments I have written a second report which calls for the immediate suspension of the implementation of the 2014 Primary National Curriculum for Mathematics. This new report dated 6 Jan 2014 can be downloaded here: Fundamental Problems with the 2014 Primary National Curriculum for Mathematics.

The press release which accompanies this report can be downloaded here:
Call for Suspension of New Primary Mathematics Curriculum.

6 JAN FAULT: If you experience problems downloading the report an alternative version (without hyperlinks) can be downloaded from the Times Educational Supplement site.

International Conference on Mathematics Textbook Research and Development 2014

International Conference on Mathematics Textbook Research and Development 2014

University of Southampton, UK, 29-31 July 2014

Conference themes:

  • Textbook research (concepts, issues, methods, directions, etc.)
  • Textbook analysis (characteristics, treatment of contents and/or pedagogy, etc.)
  • Textbook comparison or historical studies
  • Textbook use (by teachers, by students, and/or by other parties)
  • Textbook development (presentation, task design, publishing, policy matters, etc.)
  • Integration of ICT in textbooks (including e-textbook)
  • Other disciplines in maths textbooks & maths in textbooks of other disciplines
  • All other relevant issues about mathematics textbooks

Conference papers to be published in electronic proceedings
Opportunity to be considered for an edited book under negotiation with a major publisher.

A pardon for Alan Turing

Alan Turing has been granted a posthumous pardon, overturning his 1952 conviction for homosexual activity. Making the announcement, the British Justice Minister Chris Grayling commented “Turing deserves to be remembered and recognised for his fantastic contribution to the war effort and his legacy to science. A pardon from the Queen is a fitting tribute to an exceptional man.”

This has given rise to the most extensive national and international media
coverage of Alan Turing and his legacy ever.

Internationally the response has been predominantly positive – Peter van
Emde Boas caught the mood with his “Congratulations with this success; it
doesn’t make the UK any less strange however… “. The fact the pardon
was 61 years coming was universally commented on.

In the UK, many were unhappy with the word ‘pardon’ wanting something recognised that the fault was that of the state. Everyone was concerned about others who had had lives ruined by the same law – and, like Turing, had died before they or their families could benefit from the recent legislation, which enables those living to apply to have their convictions ‘disregarded’ and wiped from the records. Here is the Stonewall guide to the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 (relevant to many of the “75,000 others” – in some places “50,000 others” – widely commented on):
http://www.stonewall.org.uk/at_home/hate_crime_domestic_violence_and_criminal_law/8064.asp

The Cambridge Student webpage nicely captured the mood “Alan Turing’s pardon is simply not enough”, and got the facts right:
http://www.tcs.cam.ac.uk/comment/0031341-alan-turing-s-pardon-is-simply-not-enough.html

Many first heard the Royal Pardon news via radio or TV on Christmas Eve – for instance on the BBC Today programme that morning, with JohnHumphrys interviewing Baroness Trumpington and Barry Cooper:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-25503464

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01nxh88

Baroness Trumpington was specially generous in her praise for Lord Sharkey, whose private members bill introduced in the House of Lords played such a large part in the eventual outcome. See also the BBC page “Royal pardon for codebreaker Alan Turing” with further videos: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-25495315

Other Christmas Eve interviews included Sue Black in one for The Telegraph “Alan Turing’s Royal pardon is long overdue”: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/history/world-war-two/10536644/Alan-Turings-Royal-pardon-is-long-overdue.html

And Barry Cooper’s interview for Sky TV News in the afternoon:

http://www1.maths.leeds.ac.uk/pure/logic/computability/BarryTalks/sky24_12_13.mov

You can also hear Barry interviewed on BBC Radio 3 Counties by Roberto Perrone (thanks to the BBC and Mark Cotton) at the Alan Turing Year AudioBoo webpage: https://audioboo.fm/AlanTuringYear

Citizens’ Maths

Citizen’s Maths is a MOOC project funded by the Ufi Charitable Trust. It
is led by Calderdale College with CogBooks, the Institute of Education,
and OCR.

http://goo.gl/RexVLv is a call for maths teachers to express an interest
in working with Citizens’ Maths as “to camera” tutors.

The deadline for responses is Thursday 5/12/2013.

Please spread the call as widely as you wish.

Tony Gardiner: National curriculum – Comments and suggested necessary changes

Published today:

A. D. Gardiner, National curriculum (England), September 2013; Attainment targets and programmes of study (key stages 1–3). Comments and suggested necessary changes. The De Morgan Gazette 4 , no. 3 (2013), 13-57

From the Introduction:

The Education Order 2013 was “made” on 5 September 2013. The relevant details were “laid before parliament” on 11 September 2013, and will come into effect on 1 September 2014. Some of the details for GCSE were published on 1 November 2013. Further elaboration of GCSE assessment structure, and curriculum guidance for Key Stage 4 (Years 10–11, ages 14–16) are awaited.

It is generally agreed that the curriculum review process adopted over the last 3–4 years has been seriously flawed. Those involved worked hard, often under very difficult conditions. But the overall approach (of relying on civil servants and drafters whose responsibilities and constraints remained inscrutable) has merely demonstrated that drafting and maintaining curricula is a specialist task, requiring dedicated professionals with specialist experience.

Whatever flaws there may have been in the process, we will all have to live with the new curriculum for some years. So it is important to have an open discussion of the likely difficulties. This article is an attempt to indicate aspects of the National curriculum in England: mathematics programmes of study that will need to be handled with considerable care, and revised in the light of experience.

After three years of widespread unease about the process of the curriculum review and its apparent direction, it is remarkable that there has been almost no media coverage, and no clear professional response to the final mathematics programmes of study for ages 5–14. There is therefore a real danger that insights that emerged along the way will simply be forgotten, and that the same mistakes may then be made next time. [...]

The details laid before parliament are `statutory’; but they incorporate basic flaws, and significant contradictions between the statutory list of content (which could all-too-easily be imposed uncritically) and the declared over-arching “aims” (which could get forgotten, or ignored). Given these flaws, the fate of the new programmes of study will depend on how sensitively their implementation is handled—whether slavishly, or intelligently. Teachers—and Ofsted, senior management, etc.—need to be alert to those aspects of the stated programmes of study that incorporate predictable pitfalls.

We summarise here what seem to be the two most important flaws.

Some material in Key Stage 1 and 2 is very poorly specified (especially from Year 4 onwards).

Some items are listed unnecessarily and unrealistically early, and so may be introduced at a stage:

  • where they are not yet needed,
  • where they will not be understood,
  • where they will be badly taught, and
  • where – if the relevant requirements were relaxed – the premature material could easily be delayed without causing any subsequent problems.

The listing of content for Key Stage 3 is in some ways reasonable, but too many things are left implicit. The programme of study is less structured than, and contains less detail than, that for Key Stages 1 and 2. Hence the details of the Key Stage 3 programme need interpretation. At present:

  • the words of each bullet point are rarely elaborated;
  • the connections between themes are mostly suppressed; and
  • there is no mention of essential preliminaries.

In addition

  • the Key Stage 3 programme has no accompanying `Notes and guidance’.

In summary, if the declared goals for Key Stage 4 are to be realised,

  • we need some way of clarifying the specified content and relaxing the unnecessary and potentially damaging pressures built in to the Key Stage 1–2 curriculum as it stands; and
  • the centrally prescribed curriculum for Key Stage 3 needs to be much more clearly structured to help schools understand what it is that is currently missing at this level—initially by providing suitable non-statutory `Notes and guidance’.