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See detailHistoricizing the journey of the New Math reform from the United States to Luxembourg in the 1960s and 1970s
Nadimi Amiri, Shaghayegh UL

Doctoral thesis (2017)

This research investigates the process of the New Math, an internationally disseminated reform of school mathematics in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, during the 1960s and 1970s. This mathematics reform ... [more ▼]

This research investigates the process of the New Math, an internationally disseminated reform of school mathematics in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, during the 1960s and 1970s. This mathematics reform was propagated in the Western side of the Cold War to promote the mathematical and scientific power of Western countries. With this initial objective as a core of the study, the research then expands the area of the research to look at the mathematics education in the western countries. Timewise also, this expansion goes beyond the 1960s and 1970s, the era of the New Math reform. Thus, in a broader perspective, the research attempts to study what school policymakers expect from school mathematics historically in Western countries. It studies how the background idea and reasoning of the New Math reform through the journey of the reform from the United States to Europe and Luxembourg was changed and adapted to be applicable in the educational context of Luxembourg. The three main questions of the research are: 1 How was the New Math reform received and advanced in Luxembourg? 2 What did Luxembourgers expect from their school mathematics? Or Why students in Luxembourg should learn mathematics? 3 What was the reasoning behind mathematics education in Western countries through the history of schooling? The research began by exploratory methods to clear the property of the research and to determine the data collection method and other features that research needed to improve its design. This approach led to a collection of data including documents related to the context of Luxembourg, and context outside Luxembourg. This collection included both primary and secondary sources. The research studied texts of laws, regulations, newspapers, conference proceedings of the era, mathematics textbooks, teacher journals and other officially published sources as well as unpublished sources such as correspondences between different actors related to the school system and math education. For reading and analyzing data, the research was inspired by Foucault’s archaeological approach in historical research and the study of different layers, which shape the discourse. In addition to Foucault, Popkewitz (e.g., 1997, 2009; Popkewitz & Lindblad, 2004) and Hacking (2012) inspired the work in developing the historical study of the reasoning. The research indicated two paradigms, which shaped the answers to the questions “why students should learn mathematics.” The first paradigm supports the reasoning, which argues that mathematics education should improve thinking ability, mental power and intellectuality. The second paradigm was based on the idea that mathematics offers a tool to learners to solve the problems of everyday life such as economics, engineering, etc. The research showed that these two paradigms shaped the discourse before and during the New Math reform and in different contexts and culture. [less ▲]

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See detailThe role of international organisations in the New Math reform process
Nadimi Amiri, Shaghayegh UL

Scientific Conference (2017, August)

This paper studies a particular school reform that travelled over countries and continents. The target reform of this paper is the New Math reform, which started in the United States and travelled through ... [more ▼]

This paper studies a particular school reform that travelled over countries and continents. The target reform of this paper is the New Math reform, which started in the United States and travelled through many European countries. This article is part of my PhD project. I previously presented some of the results in different conferences, for instance: (Nadimi, 2015a, 2015b, 2016). The present paper studies the role of the international institutions in the adaptation of the reform in Luxembourg In 1958, the School Mathematics Study Group (SMSG) in the United States started a series of mathematics reform under the title “the New Math reform”. The aim of this reform plan was to promote the “problem solving” abilities in students (Phillips, 2014, pp. 16- 59). Many of mathematicians and math educators who became a member of the SMSG, had already started working on a new system of math education at the University of Chicago since 1955. However, the launch of Sputnik satellite by the USSR in 1957 gave the opportunity to trigger the New Math reform. The origin of the New Math reform was the ‘modern mathematics’ of the French Bourbaki group. A group of French mathematicians, since 1935, under the pseudonym Nicolas Bourbaki founded the “modern mathematics” by publishing the series of Elements of Mathematics (Bourbaki's_homepage). The reform came back to its land of origin through a conference organised by OEEC (Organisation for European Economic Co-operation) in the Royaumont abbey in Paris to foster the reform movement in Europe (OECD, 1961). The official title of the conference was “New thinking in mathematics education”, but it is known as the “Royaumont seminar”. OECD (the Organisation succeeding the OEEC) published the proceeding of the conference and organised other following conferences. The fact that OEEC/OECD hosts these conferences shows the politico-economic aspect of this reform. (Tröhler, 2015, p. 6) indicates that organisations like OEEC were created to link the national and the international, to create a global sphere, and to form an institutional or organisational channel to transfer desired ideas, policies, and curricula. The practical implementations of the New Math reform, in Europe, were discussed in two international organisations: ICMI (International Commission on Mathematical Instruction), founded in 1908, and CIEAEM (Commission Internationale pour l’Étude et l’Améloration de l’Enseignement des Mathématiques), established in 1950 (Vanpaemel, 2012). Furthermore, there were also local institutions, such as Centre Belge de Pédagogie de la Mathématique (CBPM). This centre had a close collaboration with Luxembourgian teachers and school stakeholders. This paper reviews the process of the New Math reform in Luxembourg by focusing on the interactions between the international institutions and the local school system. By telling the story of Luxembourg, the paper reveals a part of history related to the acts and efforts of the mentioned international organisations in the dissemination of the New Math reform idea in Europe. It shows how the national and international interactions could help the advancement of the reform and where the collaboration met challenges. The central question that shapes the paper is that up to what point the international cooperation of Luxembourgian stakeholders could be influential at the national level. This can be an example of how the acts and efforts of international organisations interact with the local interested parties in the development of an educational idea. [less ▲]

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See detailWhen An Educational Ideology Travels: The Experience Of The New Math Reform In Luxembourg
Nadimi Amiri, Shaghayegh UL

in Mathematics Education and Life at Times of Crisis (2017, April)

Since 1958 a series of new reform programmes, known as “New Math reform” tried to fundamentally deconstruct the mathematics education of schools in the United States. This reform aimed to promote the ... [more ▼]

Since 1958 a series of new reform programmes, known as “New Math reform” tried to fundamentally deconstruct the mathematics education of schools in the United States. This reform aimed to promote the “problem-solving” abilities in students and was a means to modernise not just the school math education but also the idea of why students should learn mathematics. Later, the reform project travelled to Europe through the support of the OECD and some other international or European organisation. This paper briefly reviews the process of the adaptation of this reform project in Luxembourg during the 1960s and 1970s. The aim is to look at how the ideological background about mathematics education, and in general education, mattered in the preceding of this school reform. [less ▲]

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See detailThe reasoning behind the New Math: from the US to Luxembourg
Nadimi Amiri, Shaghayegh UL

Presentation (2016, September 03)

Since 1958 a series of new reform programmes, known as “New Math reform” tried to fundamentally deconstruct the mathematics education of schools in the United States. This reform aimed to promote the ... [more ▼]

Since 1958 a series of new reform programmes, known as “New Math reform” tried to fundamentally deconstruct the mathematics education of schools in the United States. This reform aimed to promote the “problem-solving” abilities in students and was a means to modernise not just the school math education but also the idea of why students should learn mathematics. Later, the reform project travelled to Europe through the support of the OECD and some other international or European organisation. This paper briefly reviews the process of the adaptation of this reform project in Luxembourg during the 1960s and 1970s. The aim is to look at how the ideological background about mathematics education, and in general education, mattered in the preceding of this school reform. [less ▲]

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See detailA historical study of applying a new perspective on mathematical concepts for improving education of “mentally handicapped” children
Nadimi Amiri, Shaghayegh UL

Scientific Conference (2016, August 20)

The law of 14 March 1973, in Luxembourg, authorized the creation of institutes et services d’éducation différencié. This law entitled children who could not follow the ordinary schools for the reason of ... [more ▼]

The law of 14 March 1973, in Luxembourg, authorized the creation of institutes et services d’éducation différencié. This law entitled children who could not follow the ordinary schools for the reason of having mental, behavioural or sensorial peculiarities to access appropriate education. However, since the school year of 1970-71, a group of mathematics and primary school teachers in Luxembourg started an experiment to use the approaches of modern mathematics in teaching mathematics to children with Intellectual Disability who had no success during 3-4 years of being in normal schools. The leader of this experiment was Robert Dieschbourg, a math teacher active in the adaptation of the New Math reform in Luxembourg. This experiment was a point of interest both for Luxembourgian communities who were seeking equality in education, and the international promoters of New Math reform. According to the reports that Dieschbourg published at least once a year, the result of the experiment was satisfactory. Two major points that can be concluded from these reports were: it is possible that “mentally handicapped” children learn maths; and modern mathematics with its “humanistic aspect” (Dieschbourg, 1971) is an answer to the question of how to include children with intellectual disability. The paper reviews how these experiments tried to show that a different approach of teaching could make “disable” children able to learn. I also use the opportunity to ask whether this experiment could show how much the mental disability was a consequence of the social construction of knowledge and the definition of being disable in achieving that knowledge. Moreover, the paper shows how the experiment was started as a part of the adaptation of the New Math curriculum, and its “successful” result was meant to support the arguments and reasoning for the implication of the bigger project of the New Math reform. [less ▲]

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See detailNational Adaptation of New Math as a Cold War ‘Globally’-disseminated Idea in Luxembourg: Confrontation of National Values and International Urges
Nadimi Amiri, Shaghayegh UL

Scientific Conference (2015, September 08)

After the end of the World War II, almost all western countries started reforming their education system, specially maths and science education, as a result of their wartime experience and the new ... [more ▼]

After the end of the World War II, almost all western countries started reforming their education system, specially maths and science education, as a result of their wartime experience and the new economic and security needs. This trend has been accelerated after the launch of Sputnik satellite by the USSR in October 1957. One of the main subject that has been reformed vigorously was school mathematics, specifically under the name of the New Math reform, created by SMSG (School Mathematics Study Group) in 1958. The New Math reform was a means to modernise not just the school maths education but also the idea of why students should learn mathematics. The beginning of the New Math reform movement in Europe is originated in a so-called Royaumont seminar with the official title of “New thinking in school mathematics”. The seminar was held in Paris, between 23rd of November and 4th of December 1959. This seminar triggered many reforms and changes in school mathematics during 1960s and 1970s in Europe including Luxembourg. This paper is a part of my Ph.D. project under the main title “Travelling ideologies and national adaptations: The implementation of New Math in Luxembourgian school system during 1960s-1970s”. The main focus of the project is to see how the New Math was adapted for Luxembourgian schools in order to reveal how a ‘globally’-disseminated idea about how mathematics is connected to the ideology of the rational and critical citizen has been implemented in this country by translating it into its cultural idiosyncrasy. During the 1960s and 1970s there were many attempts by Luxembourg mathematicians at adapting conceptions of the new mathematics to make them applicable first for the secondary and later for the primary levels. However, the development of my study showed that the New Math reform, unlike in the U.S. or in France, did not have a sharp starting point in Luxembourg, but it was part of a smooth transitional movements that started around 1900 when the country was trying to define its national identity. Therefore, this presentation starts with a brief review of the changes in school mathematics since 1900 up to the end of 1970s when the New Math officially was introduced in the primary level, and studies the arguments and discussion with regard to mathematics education with a focus on the discussion around the era that Royaumont seminar was taking place and after that. The importance of the Royaumont seminar is that from then, the international efforts came to the playfield through OEEC/OECD and intervened in the national demarche. Accordingly the main questions that lead this presentation are: How was the meaning and purpose of mathematics education changing in Luxembourg during the first 70 years of twentieth century? Where did different people or groups in Luxembourg placed mathematics in their expected education at the time when the New Maths movement started in Europe in 1959? Finally, how did OECD influence the development of adapting this suggesting ideology related to education, and how did different people and groups react or collaborate? [less ▲]

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See detailCultural conditions in the adaptation of a global ideology: New Maths reform in Luxembourg in the 1960’s and 1970’s
Nadimi Amiri, Shaghayegh UL

Scientific Conference (2015, June 26)

The idea that the modern mathematics can help pupil to become more intelligent or rational as the future citizens, was initiated in the United States after the WWII and accelerated after the launch of ... [more ▼]

The idea that the modern mathematics can help pupil to become more intelligent or rational as the future citizens, was initiated in the United States after the WWII and accelerated after the launch of Sputnik by the USSR. As a part of martial plan, the United States introduced this idea in Europe through the so-called Royaumont Seminar in 1959. The seminar with the title “New thinking in school mathematics” was organized by the Organisation for European Economic Co-operation (OEEC) and chaired by the American mathematician Dr. Marshall Stone in Royaumont Abbey in Paris. This seminar recommended its member countries to proceed with a reform in their mathematics teaching. Dr. Stone expressed the need for this reform “deep and urgent” (OEEC, 1961, p. 29). Luxembourg was also one of the first nations to participate in these international curricular activities including the Royaumont Seminar (OECD, 1961, p. 215). The development of maths and sciences education became an issue for the country to such an extent that Pierre Frieden, the prime minister of Luxembourg in 1958, proclaimed: “Those, who have the best scientists will win the Cold War … [and] the economic war!” (LW February 27, 1958, p. 3), thus underscoring the need for Luxembourg’s to participate in the reform movement. This paper is part of a research project that studies how New Math was adapted for Luxembourgish primary schools. It works to reveal how a ‘globally’-disseminated idea about how mathematics relates to the ideology of the rational and critical citizen has been implemented in Luxembourg by translating it into its cultural idiosyncrasy. Many Luxembourgian mathematicians attempted to adapt conceptions of the new mathematics for the elementary levels during the 1960s and 1970s. Alongside, these mathematicians were also active in participating and even hosting conferences focusing on the subject of New Maths reform in that era. However, despite all these efforts, the new mathematics officially entered Luxembourg’s primary school textbooks twenty years after the Royaumont seminar. The research data is drawn from relevant archival records including reports, correspondences, teachers’ journals, local newspaper articles, texts of laws, non-official and official relevant school-books of the era in Luxembourg. In addition, I also look at the handbooks of the new mathematics conceptions suggested in the US, in order to have a comparison to see how the suggested conceptions were adapted to serve values and expectations in Luxembourg. My study shows that in one hand, Luxembourg had a very tight cooperation with OEEC/OECD, and on the other hand, there was the local culture and beliefs about the role of mathematics and the expectation from the future citizens. Besides the restriction that multilingualism made for preparing textbooks, moral and religious values also played their tremendous roles. In that situation, Luxembourgian educational-policy makers had to go through many delicate and time-consuming dialogues which are an interesting area of study. In this paper, I study how the ideology of New Math has been justified and adapted to be acceptable in the Luxembourgish culture.   [less ▲]

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