19 February 2021

150th Birthday!

Every time I read anything about the history of mathematics education in England, I am struck by the pivotal role played by The Mathematical Association. Originally called the 'Association for the Improvement of Geometrical Teaching', the MA was founded 150 years ago in 1871. Education looked very different back then.

The MA was the first ever teachers' subject association to be formed in England. It paved the way for many that followed - both in maths and other subjects. Subject associations exist to support teachers and to give them a voice. 

The MA has played an absolutely crucial role in both reforming the maths curriculum and in supporting classroom teachers for 150 years. 150 years is a really long time in education. 

I think we all know that subject associations need all the help they can get at the moment. The rise of the internet has meant that over the last decade teachers have found new ways of supporting each other. It would break my heart if the MA had to shut down. Imagine that - the oldest subject association in England, the original reformer of maths education, closing because it couldn't convince maths teachers to part with £2.50 a month to support it.

You can join here by the way. It's super cheap, and even cheaper for NQTs and trainees. And it's important. But anyway, I am not here to talk to you about joining the MA - I have done that before in my post 'Strength in Numbers'. I am here today to tell you about some of the exciting stuff that will be happening this year for the MA's Sesquicentennial. 

I absolutely adore maths conferences. I was really sad that last year's MA Conference had to be cancelled (it was meant to be at a spa hotel! And I was going to do a keynote!). 

I can't put into words how much I miss the real-life human interaction that comes with attending in-person conferences. But I do see the multiple advantages of virtual conferences. From a speaker perspective, the large audiences are great! Now I've got the hang of presenting online, I really like it. And from a delegate perspective, virtual conferences are more affordable and more widely accessible. So I am a big fan of these online events. I hope that once Covid is over, a mix of both in-person and virtual maths conferences will be available.

The MA's Easter conference usually takes place over three days, but three days in a row is a long time to spend online, so the upcoming virtual conference has been carefully designed to ensure that delegates don't suffer from screen fatigue.

The first day takes place from 12.20pm to 5.50pm on Thursday 1st April (for most teachers, this will be the first day of the Easter holidays). The programme for this day is amazing. The keynote will be from Dr Nira Chamberlain and the plenary will be presented by Charlie Gilderdale and Liz Woodham from NRICH. Throughout the day there are numerous 50 minute workshops across a variety of strands, including primary, secondary and post-16. I'm looking forward to presenting on task design in the secondary strand. 

The second and third days of the conference take place on Friday 9th and Saturday 10th April. Both days start at 12.40, so no need to get out of bed early in the holidays! These days are jam-packed with brilliant workshops, plus unmissable plenary sessions from current MA President Hannah Fry, and future MA President Colin Foster.

The full programme for all three days can be accessed on the conference website. There's so much to choose from!

There will be evening events at the end of the first and second day of the conference. And the workshop recordings will be available to access after the event, which means that for a mere ten pounds you get access to the full live conference experience, plus a bank of over 60 conference sessions to access if and when you want to. It's actually crazy that you get all this for just ten pounds - it's worth booking even if you just intend to attend a couple of sessions! And for those of you wishing to attend the whole conference, you are welcome to pay more for your ticket if you wish (bear in mind that the MA is a charity and the extra support is much appreciated). 

What else is happening this year?
There are even more exciting things planned for the MA's 150th anniversary year. 

One thing I am particularly looking forward to is an upcoming edition of the excellent journal Mathematics in School which I am guest editing with Ed Southall. We have decided to make this edition a tribute to the late Don Steward. I am delighted by the high quality articles submitted for inclusion. If you wish to receive a copy and you are not currently a member of the MA, then join now and make sure you choose to receive Mathematics in School along with the standard subscription. 

Another lovely thing that the MA has done to mark its 150th birthday is share a hand-picked collection of papers from across the history of The Mathematical Gazette. You can download these for free here. I absolutely love the article 'A century of textbooks'. 

If you're not familiar with the Gazette - it's quite something. It's a leading journal in its field, with global readership, and has been published since 1894. There's a sample booklet here.

Follow @Mathematical_A to see what's happening in this important year in the MA's history. And don't forget to get a conference ticket! See you there.

1 comment:

  1. Even the cost can be claimed back against tax so actual cost is zero..