Home » Volume 1 Number 2, March 1985

Volume 1 Number 2, March 1985

Initial ISGEm Advisory Board

Gloria Gilmer, ISGEm Chair
Milwaukee, WI USA

Gilbert J. Cuevas
Coral Gables, FL USA

Ubiratan D’Ambrosio
Campinas, SP BRASIL

Patrick (Rick) Scott
Albuquerque, NM USA


Initial Reaction to ISGEM

It is with pleasure that we present this second issue of the ISGEm Newsletter. Initial response to the ISGEm has been quite positive and encouraging. Several individuals have sent us copies of papers that have been written and references to expand our “Preliminary bibliography.” We encourage all of you to do the same. A special thanks to Claudia Zaslavsky, Marcia Ascher, Terezinha Carraher, Robert Hunting, and Charles Moore.

We are particularly interested in receiving short concept papers on Ethnomathematics, information on relevant research, particulars on professional meetings, annotated bibliographic reviews, and books and articles that we might review. The next issue of the ISGEm Newsletter should appear in August so we would appreciate your contributions by July.


Excerpts from Letters

I whole-heartedly endorse the formation of ISGEm. I assume that Ethnomathematics is synonymous with “Sociomathematics,” the field I described in Africa Counts. I used the term “Sociomathematics” because I was dealing with the mathematical practices that arose from the needs of the society…

One of the things we might discuss is an expanded definition of Ethnomathematics. Does it include, for example, the types of patterns found in the textiles, wood work, and other crafts of various cultures. Don Crowe has been involved in classifying centuries-old Native American pottery on the basis of the types of symmetry of the patterns. Anthropologists have traced the African origins of Afro-Americans in the Caribbean and South America on the basis of their rules for playing Mancala games. Are games included under Ethnomathematics? Is membership in the organization open to people who, like myself at this stage, try to bring facets of the mathematical practices of peoples throughout the world into the curriculum in this country, to enhance and broaden the knowledge of U.S. children?

Claudia Zaslavsky


Recently, in collaboration with an anthropologist (my husband), I wrote an article entitled “Ethnomathematics.” In it we defined the term as the serious study of the mathematical ideas of nonliterate peoples. At the time we were not aware of Prof. D’Ambrosio’s work.

The paper first attempts to clarify some misunderstandings in the mathematical literature about nonliterate peoples and their ideas. It then goes on to discuss the potential of Ethnomathematics. The paper will appear in 1986 in History of Science published in England. I believe that it and its extensive bibliography will be of interest to your members. Your use of the term may subsume ours. In any case, our goals are similar, namely to broaden the view of mathematics to include more than what is done by Western professionals.

Marcia Ascher


Ethnomathematics at the 6th IACME in Mexico

Ethnomathematics was one of the important themes at the Sixth Inter-American Conference on Mathematics Education held in Guadalajara, Mexico, in November of 1985.

In a keynote address Terezinha Carraher of the Federal University of Pernambuco in Recife, Brazil, summarized her research efforts that indicate that individuals such as child street vendors and adult construction workers often use mathematics in their work that they appear incapable of using within the context of school mathematics.

A panel discussion on “Cultural and Historic Aspects of the Teaching of Mathematics” met for two sessions. Secondary school applications of Ethnomathematics developed in Brazil were discussed.

One particular application concerns the mathematics involved in the construction and flying of various kinds of kites. Ethnomathematics was defined, some obstacles faced in the dissemination of the concepts of Ethnomathematics were discussed, and the results of a survey on Ethnomathematics among rural indigenous primary teachers from the highlands of Guatemala were presented.

Translation into Spanish of the first ISGEm Newsletter available for the Conference participants. The reception was positive that plans call for all editions of the ISGEm Newsletter to be translated into Spanish. Members are encouraged to translate them into other languages and disseminate them widely

Initial plans were made to hold the 7th IACME in the Dominican Republic in July of 1987.


Ford Foundation to Establish Urban Mathematics Collaborative

The Ford Foundation has announced an experimental pr( gram to strengthen mathematics teaching in inner-city high schools. Five grants, totaling $370,000, will help establish “urban mathematics collaboratives in Philadelphia, Minneapolis, Cleveland, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.” Two more grants have recently been awarded in Pittsburgh and Durham.)

Bringing together mathematicians from local educational, cultural, and business institutions, the collaboratives will marshall community resources to stimulate the profession renewal of high school teachers.

The Ford Foundation grants, supplemented by $725,000 local support, will assist such activities as lectures on applied mathematics in business, intensive summer mini-courses on ne’ technologies, and exchange programs with local colleges an industries.

“The collaboratives will give teachers added resources to learn about new ideas, to develop relationships with other mathematicians, and to augment classroom activities,” says Ford Foundation President Franklin Thomas. “We believe that increasing teachers’ colleagueship with other professionals will lead enriched learning opportunities for students.”

The new initiative, part of the Foundation’s ongoing commitment to strengthening schools serving disadvantaged inner-city students, will support the collaboratives’ first eighteen months of operation.


Ethnomathematics: A Preliminary Bibliography (Part 2)

Please Note: These references are being pieced together in Guatemala and regrettably cannot be verified before publication. Please communicate any errors to us. We also look forward to your continuing contributions to the “Bibliography.”

Ascher, Marcia (1981). Code of the OuiDu: A Studv in Media. Mathematics and Culture, University of Michigan Press.

Carraher, T.N., Carraher, D.W. and Schliemann, A.D. (1985). Mathematics in the streets and in the schools, British Journal of Developmental Psychology. 3.21-29.

Carraher, T.M., Carraher, D.W. and Schliemann, A.D. (to appear). Written and oral mathematics, Journal for Research in Mathematics Education.

Carraher, T.M., Carraher, D.W. and Schliemann, A.D. (1982). Na vida dez, na escola, zero: Os contextos culturais de aprendizagem de matematica, Cuadernos de Pespuisa. 42. 79-85.

Carraher, T.N. and Schliemann, A.D. escola: algoritrnos ensinados a estragias (1983). A adicao e a sub tracao na aprendidas. Revista Brasileira de Estudos Pedagogicos. 64.234-242.

Hemmings, Ray (1980). Multi-Ethnic Mathematics, New Approaches in Multicultural Education. 8.

Hunting, Robert P. (1985). Learning. AboriginalWorld View and Ethnomathematics. Western Australia Institute of Technology, Faculty of Education.

Moore, Charles B. (1982). The Navajo Culture and the Learning of Mathematics. Washington, D.C.: NIE.

Moore, Charles B. (1985). Cat’s Cradle. Mathematics. Minorities and Kurt Vonnegut, Flagstaff, AZ: Northern Arizona University.

Scribner, Sylvia and Cole, Michael (1974). Culture and Thought, New York: Wiley and Sons.

Wilson, Bryan (1984). Cultural Contexts of Science and Mathematics Education: A Bibliographic Guide. University of Leeds: Center for Studies in Science Education.

Yanez Cossio, Consuelo and Jerez, Agustin (1984).Elementos de Analisis en Matematicas Ouichua v Castellano. Ouito: Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Ecuador (mimeographed).

Zaslavsky, Claudia (1985). Bringing the world into the Math class. Curriculum Review. 24.62-65.


Coming Events

ISGEm meeting at NCTM Annual on April 2 at 4:15 PM in the Marshall Room of the Sheraton Washington Hotel.

Interamerican Conference on Math Education, July 1987 in the Dominican Republic.

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