Professor BURKHARDT, Hugh (The University of Nottingham, UK)
Hugh Burkhardt has always seen learning to use mathematics to tackle everyday life problems and decisions as central to a high-quality education. A theoretical physicist, he got into school mathematics education almost by chance – through modelling. In 1963 he was asked to run a series of professional development workshops on the (almost-uniquely-British) teaching of Newtonian Mechanics in high school mathematics. Dismayed by the artificiality of the problems, he turned the workshops into a course on modelling, introducing an early version of the modelling diagram. Since moving to Nottingham in 1976, Hugh has led the Shell Centre team at Nottingham in a series of integrated curriculum and assessment projects to develop tools that help teachers to align their practice with international learning goals in mathematics. Modelling is a central strand in this work. Hugh takes an “engineering” view of educational research and development: that it is about using prior research, imaginative design and systematic development to make high-quality tools that help a complex system work better. Hugh believes that the main obstacles to progress are now at system level, at least in the UK and the US. He led the foundation of the International Society for Design and Development in Education, and its e-journal Educational Designer. In 2015 he and his colleague, lead designer Malcolm Swan, were chosen by ICMI to receive the first Emma Castelnuovo Award "for Excellence in the Practice of Mathematics Education".
Modeling in School Mathematics: Past Achievements, Current Challenges
I shall begin with an illustrated outline of the development of the teaching of modeling over the last 55 years, commenting on various issues in the design of teaching and learning that are relevant today. In the early explorations a simple apprenticeship approach was common: the teacher gave students experience tackling problem situations from the real world, with support mainly through hopefully-non-directive discussion. As this was developed into more systematic approaches issues arose, for example on the kinds of guidance that are appropriate. I will discuss some of the design issues that, despite having been illuminated by subsequent research and development, remain open. I will then move on to discuss the fact that, after half a century, active modeling by students is widely recognised as important but is still uncommon in school classrooms. I will present an analysis of the causes and outline a program to discover how they might be overcome.