Topic Study Group 25:
The role of mathematics in the overall curriculum
A305 and A306 Rooms
  • Kyungmee Park (Korea)
  • Aarnout Brombacher (South Africa)
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Team members:
  • Joana Brocardo (Portugal)
  • Lynn Arthur Steen (USA)
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Aims and scope

Mathematics is a fundamental part of human thought and logic, and integral to attempts at understanding the world and ourselves. Mathematics provides an effective way of building mental discipline and encourages logical reasoning and mental rigor. In addition, mathematical knowledge plays a crucial role in understanding the contents of other school subjects such as science, social studies, and even music and art.

The purpose of this TSG is to investigate the role of mathematics in the overall curriculum. Due to the wide range of possible issues that could be addressed in this TSG, we plan to organize the papers and accompanying discussions into three key strands.

Firstly, we ask the question: why does mathematics hold such an important and unique place among other subjects? That is, what is the significance of mathematics in the overall school curriculum? As a point of departure we offer a few thoughts on why mathematics should be treated as an important subject in overall curriculum.

- Mathematics has a transversal nature. If we reflect on the history of curriculum in general, then mathematics (geometry and algebra) were two of the seven liberal arts in Greek as well as in medieval times. This historical role supports the notion that mathematics has provided the mental discipline required for other disciplines.

- Mathematical literacy is a crucial attribute of individuals living more effective lives as constructive, concerned and reflective citizens. Mathematical literacy is taken to include basic computational skills, quantitative reasoning, spatial ability etc.

- Mathematics is applied in various fields and disciplines, i.e., mathematical concepts and procedures are used to solve problems in science, engineering, economics. (For example, the understanding of complex numbers is a prerequisite to learn many concepts in electronics.) The complexity of those problems often requires relatively sophisticated mathematical concepts and procedures when compared to the mathematical literacy aforementioned.

- Mathematics is a part of our human cultural heritage, and we have a responsibility to develop that heritage.

Secondly, since mathematics provides foundational knowledge and skills for other school subjects, such as sciences, art, economy, etc., the issue of how mathematics is intertwined with other school subjects deserved to be addressed. In some curricula, mathematics is offered independently to support the study of other school subjects as an ‘instrumental subject’, and in other curricula, integrated courses which combine mathematics and other fields are offered.

Thirdly, we may wish to reflect on the number of hours (proportion of hours) and/or courses allocated to mathematics when compared to the other school subject in the curriculum of each country. In addition to this quantitative analysis, information about the qualitative description of school mathematics in relation to other subjects also needs to be gathered. Although this comparison won’t show us the whole picture of why different countries attach the importance that they do to mathematics, the comparison may nonetheless provoke further discussion.

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Call for papers

The TSG 25 organizing team cordially invites all interested researchers and teachers to submit papers related to the topic of this group, in particular to its aims and scope. Any contribution addressing questions, problems and issues related to the topics listed above may be submitted. We welcome proposals from both researchers and practitioners, and encourage contributions from all countries with different cultural backgrounds.

Method of submission: email attachment to the TSG 25 chairs – Aarnout Brombacher ( or Kyungmee Park (

Deadline for submission of abstracts (1-2 pages) – 15 January, 2008

Notification of acceptance of abstracts – 31 January, 2008

Submission of full papers – 15 March, 2008

Notification of acceptance of papers – 31 March, 2008
(i.e. accepted for presentation, accepted for distribution or on the website, rejected)

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First session – July 7th (60 min) Monday 13:00 to 14:00h
|13:00-13:15h| Introduction to the theme by Aarnout Brombacher|
|13:15h – 13:40h|Curricular Methodology for the Mathematics In The Engineering Careers Patricia Camarena Gallardo and Alma Alicia Benítez Pérez |
|13:40h – 13:45h|Critical reaction by Joana Brocardo/Aarnout Brombacher|
|13:45h – 14:00h| Discussion |

Second session – July 9th (90 min) Wednesday 12:30 to 14:00h
|12:30 – 12:55h|Using Mathematical Inquiry To Engage Student Learning Within The Overall Curriculum Jill Fielding-Wells and Katie Makar|
|12:55 – 13:00h|Critical reaction by Joana Brocardo|
|13:00 – 13: 25h|The Place of Mathematics in the Integrated Curriculum Pamela Perger and Margaret Thomson|
|13:25 – 13:30h|Critical reaction by Aarout Brombacher|
|13:30 – 14:00h|Discussion|

Third session – July 11th (60 min) Friday 12:30 to 13:30h
|12:30 – 12:55h|Mathematics in a New Interdisciplinary Subject for Upper Secondary Education: aSMaT
Jenneke Krüger|
|12:55 – 13:00h|Critical reaction by Kyungmee Park|
|13:00 – 13:30h|Discussion|

Last session – July 12th (90 min) Saturday
|12:00 to 13:30h|Structures discussion that follows from the earlier sessions|

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