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Mathematics Across Time and Place: Over Two Millennia from Athens to Zimbabwe

July 08, 2016

What is mathematics? What mathematics should be taught in schools? To whom should it be taught? How should it be taught? How should mathematical knowledge be assessed? These questions drive curriculum development, school organization, teaching methods, and research agendas in the current educational environment. At present, no one doubts that mathematics should be taught in our schools, but this was not always so.

Mathematics Education Across Time and Place was created to help mathematics teachers, teacher educators, and interested members of the public appreciate the path we have followed to arrive at the present state of mathematics education. To help us understand the historical and social context for schools and the place of mathematics in them, we meet a variety of mathematics educators who lived in different times and places. All are inventions, creations of the contributors, but their lives and the circumstances in which they lived are based on historical documents and professional sources. They range in time and place from ancient Greece to modern Zimbabwe; from Persia to British Columbia; from Islamic Baghdad to revolutionary Paris; from Elizabethan England to mid-twentieth century New York; from the rural one-room schools of America and Canada to the modern comprehensive secondary school.

By sharing the teachers’ lives we come to know how they developed their interest in, and love for, the mathematics of their time; their struggles to survive as educators; their views of society around them; and their personal triumphs and tragedies.

Tom says:

“I’m very proud of this book. It takes the reader through a series of fictional autobiographies that trace the history of mathematics education from ancient Greece to modern times, including a major section on Canada. The autobiographies were created by graduate students in my SFU course Foundations of Mathematics Education. I’ve edited twenty of the best, provided commentaries that link them across time, bracketed them with an introduction and a final summary, and listed all references for each section. I think this publication is unique, filling a void in the current literature on mathematics education, allowing one to develop a deeper understanding of current controversies and gain a real appreciation of the struggle to provide mathematics education for all.”

Mathematics Education Across Time and Place is available in hardcopy, paperback, and ebook format from friesenpress.com, amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com, itunes.apple.com, kobobooks.com, and googleplay.com.

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About the Author

Dr. Thomas O’Shea is a retired mathematics educator and scholar. He holds bachelor’s degrees in civil engineering and education, a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction, and a doctoral degree in mathematics education from the University of British Columbia. He spent ten years teaching mathematics at the secondary level in Canada, Australia, and Malaysia, and twenty-five years with the Faculty of Education at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver. There he taught mathematics methods courses for elementary and secondary teachers and graduate courses in mathematics education and research design, and served on educational development projects in Indonesia, Vietnam, and Sri Lanka. He received the university’s first Excellence in Teaching Award in 1983, and was awarded Honourary Lifetime Membership in the British Columbia Association of Mathematics Teachers in 2003. He lives with his wife in Vancouver, British Columbia