EDITOR'S NOTE: SMERG is proud to be hosting this year's CMESG conference to be held at McGill University from June 2-6, 2017. In anticipation of the event, one of our SMERG members has shared his experience at the 2016 conference.
From June 3 to 7, I attended the Canadian Mathematics Education Study Group (CMESG) Conference which was held at Queens University in Kingston, Ontario. This year was the 40th anniversary of the conference, or was it according to some? This year two special panels were held where mathematics educators that are known for their contributions to the conference as well as in mathematics educators reflected first on the past conferences and second on the future of mathematics education and the conference.
Out of the many interesting working groups that were in the program this year, I chose to attend the one on problem solving which was led by David Reid, //apps.uqo.ca/DosEtuCorpsProf/PageProfesseur.aspx?id=elena.polotskaia [at] uqo.ca">Elena Polotskaia and Richard Hoshino. In this working group, we discussed our favorite problems and what made them interesting and good problems. We also discussed how to implement our problem in class with students. In our small group, we had a good number of teachers from Ontario who drove to Kingston to attend the conference. One of the key message messages that came out at the end of the working group is that teachers do not seem to have the knowledge in terms of effective practices to use in order to successfully implement problem solving in their mathematics classrooms. The teachers present were firm believers in using problem solving in their classrooms. However, they expressed a clear message to the mathematics educators present that they need more support with this. This message brought a smile to my face because it reinforced the importance of my doctoral research, as I hope to get out a model on teaching practices that teachers could use in their instruction.
Probably the biggest highlight of the conference this year was Peter Taylor’s plenary talk entitled Structure – an allegory. The short abstract of his talk (compared to the others) had me, and I’m sure many others in suspense. And we got quite a surprise. Peter took advantage of the fact that his talk was at the Isabel Bader Center Auditorium and gave us a performance that grabbed our attention from the very beginning. You could have heard a pin drop in the auditorium. After making us laugh and even cry at parts, Peter received a long standing ovation. Many participants came out of the auditorium saying, “what happened in there?”
This year was my 4th CMESG conference and it has quickly become one of my favorites. I am looking forward to next year’s conference which will be held at McGill. After the success of the past few conferences, I must admit that the bar is set pretty high for McGill. I am confident that we will be able to surmount this challenge.