Bridging the Gap: The Importance of Communicating Mathematical Research to laypeople and in Education

May 21, 2024 - May 24, 2024
Universitat de les Illes Balears

Sala de grados
Carretera de Valldemossa, km 7.5
Esporles 07122

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This event is available both online and in-person


Vrije Universiteit Brussel


Vrije Universiteit Brussel

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The satellite workshop "Bridging the Gap: The Importance of Communicating Mathematical Research to laypeople and in Education" aims to shed light on an essential, yet under-discussed facet of mathematics education - the art of communicating complex mathematical concepts and research to children and popularizing them in the general public. Mathematical literacy is an integral part of modern society, where data-driven decision making is prevalent. Equipping children  and laypeople with an understanding of mathematical research prepares them to navigate a world where mathematics is increasingly vital.

Felix Klein already famously discussed that school mathematics is not the same as research mathematics. (Proper) Mathematics, often perceived as abstract and complex, poses a unique challenge in terms of communication, particularly to children. The key to overcoming this challenge lies in rendering mathematical research accessible and engaging to young learners. This conference invites researchers, educators, and practitioners to explore the methodologies, strategies, and benefits of conveying mathematical research to children effectively. This lack of an adequate picture of mathematics propagates via all citizens into society at large.

The transmission of mathematical concepts to children necessitates an understanding of their cognitive abilities, interests, and perspectives. It, just like the communication to laypeople, also presupposes that we understand mathematical practice, which is not a given. The understanding of the actual practices is often described as “philosophy of mathematical practice”. 

Equally significant is the narrative and language employed while communicating mathematical research. The use of storytelling, visuals, games, and practical examples can demystify mathematics, linking abstract concepts to concrete realities. This conference seeks to highlight the innovative practices and strategies employed by educators and researchers in making mathematical research relatable (to lay people and especially to children).

This workshop, thus, aims to stimulate conversations around the why's and how's of communicating mathematical research to children and laypeople. Through keynotes, panel discussions, and interactive sessions, attendees will gain insights into the best practices, challenges, and future directions in this critical field. The conference invites participation from mathematicians, educators and philosophers and anyone interested in the intersection of mathematics, education, and communication. Together, we aim to foster publication engaging with the description of mathematical practice, and invite mathematicians to communicate their (subjective) perspective, as some important mathematicians like Thurston already did. We finally want to develop concrete educational material to be published after the workshop. 

Some themes could be (but are not limited to):

  • the usage of educational software and automated theorem proving

  • ethical issues connected to the narratives surrounding mathematics

  • enriching highly gifted children

  • documenting scientific practice and methodological issues of the Philosophy of Mathematical Practice

Each day of the workshop will have a keynote lecture, contributed talks and time to develop concrete follow up projects and material. One day might be devoted in part to a social activity. 

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