Math Education

Peter principle

In mathematics education I roughly see two types of math educationalists (note that I don’t mean these as a disqualification of some sorts):

The first type starts off with a B.Sc or B.Ed degree, M.Sc and M.Ed and maybe even PhD degree in mathematics (education). One could say that de domain knowledge of these indidivuals is outstanding, and their age is still quite young (they could be around 26 finishing all of these). During this career he or she develops an interest in education, sometimes even teaches a couple of years, and is therefore seen as someone with practical experience in education. However, the main aim is to establish a research practice and a mostly a competent teacher (or not) is lost to higher education’s research community, of course playing the shortlived “I have practical experience” card often to establish credibility in the teaching community, but also when applying for grants. I feel this type of expert is part of the peter principle on the practical level, as researching educational practice is NOT the same as performing it. I feel researchers would benefit from a continuing and firm practical experience.

The second type started off with practice, perhaps first starting with teaching and aiding students in mathematics. Liking teaching he or she often picks up a course or two and getting teaching qualifications, and actually being good educators. These establish them as authorities on practice, and then -because everybody is rightly impressed by their teaching- they are asked to explain their succes. This is often done without any research-type basis , but because they are succesful this does not seem to matter. I feel this type of expert is part of the peeter principle on the theoretical level, as performing educational practice is NOT the same as researching it. I feel educationalists (be they in school, ministry or consultancy) would benefit from a continuing and firm theoretical experience.

In sum, I strongly feel that the math (education) community would benefit from bridging practice and theory: specialists in both teaching (actually teaching themselves) AND research (actually performing research themselves). Of course, this is not surprising as it is one of the goals of the Dudoc programme. To join both I think the development of a combination of Veni,vidi,vici type grants and Lector-type appointments in secondary education would be a good thing. About the latter the piece below appeared in the Volkskrant. Of course, I’m perfectly willing to start this up 😉

By cbokhove

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