The University of Arizona's Institute for Mathematics and Education will hold its first workshop to improve the training of K-12 mathematics teachers.
The Workshop on Mathematics Courses for Teacher Education, to be held March 1-4, 2007 in Tucson, will bring together teams of mathematicians and teacher educators from all over the nation.
"This workshop is about how to teach teachers. The institute's goal is to increase the quantity and quality of the mathematics teaching corps in this country," said institute founder and director William McCallum, a UA Distinguished Professor and professor of mathematics.
"There are lots of reports that mathematics education is in a bad state in this country," he said. "And schools have trouble finding enough qualified teachers to teach mathematics."
McCallum developed the idea for the institute during his fellowship at UA's Udall Center for Public Policy. He started the institute in the fall of 2006.
McCallum pointed out that regardless of their profession, people need to be able to understand quantitative information.
The upcoming conference will focus on teacher preparation. McCallum has invited several mathematics-teacher-preparation projects to share their ideas, experiences and successful methods with the conference participants.
UA's Institute for Mathematics and Education is funded by UA's Office of the Provost, College of Science and College of Education.
UA's institute will offer ongoing opportunities for the different groups involved in mathematics education to collaborate. "The institute will bring together three different communities," McCallum said. "People who live in math departments, people who live in colleges of education and people who live in the school system. It's an institute for collaboration."
Within those groups, there is disagreement about how best to teach math, he said. His institute will provide a venue for the various ideas to be aired and examined.
"It will be a place for people to discuss and come to some common ground on those issues," he said.
Although others have established individual collaborations between the different communities of scholars concerned about mathematics education, McCallum said such collaborations can come and go.
He added, "There's nothing like this institute. No one else has suggested setting up a permanent home to institutionalize such collaborations."