MathEd Forum

June  5, 2020


Theme: Teaching, Learning, Living Mathematics Humanistically
March 29, 10am-2pm
Bahen Centre Room 1240 (Map to Bahen)

Location: Bahen Centre Room 1240

Morning Program
10:00-10:10AM Reports: OAME, OMCA, OCMA, CMESG, CMS, and other.

10:10-10:30AM Gila Hanna (OISE, University of Toronto):
Beauty, explanation, and memorability in proof

Abstract: Aesthetic properties of proofs have played an important role in mathematics and in mathematics education, despite having little to do with logical correctness. The paper argues that aesthetically pleasing proofs deserve a privileged position not only for their beauty, but also for purely pragmatic reasons. Such proofs attract greater interest, make it easier to explain the mathematical ideas involved, are easier to remember, and facilitate communication among mathematicians.

Biography: Gila Hanna is Professor Emeritus in the department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning (CTL).

10:30-10:50AM Gizem Karaali (Department of Mathematics, Pomona College, CA)
Defining humanistic mathematics through personal experience

Abstract: In 2011, Journal of Humanistic Mathematics published its first issue. In January 2014, as its seventh issue (Volume III Issue 1) came out, its content had been downloaded 55K times. Journal of Humanistic Mathematics was inspired by the work of Alvin White, the founding editor of the Humanistic Mathematics Network Journal (HMNJ), a work of love that he almost single-handedly edited and produced for 15 years. White believed wholeheartedly in the importance of recognizing mathematics as a humanistic discipline and played a significant role in bringing this idea to the forefront of many minds. Today the term humanistic mathematics can encompass a broad range of topics; for the purposes of JHM, it means "the human face of mathematics." Thus we focus on the aesthetic, cultural, historical, literary, pedagogical, philosophical, psychological, and sociological aspects of mathematics as a human endeavor. Most broadly, with JHM, we aim to provide a forum for both academic and informal discussions about matters mathematical. In this brief presentation I will share with the participants my personal journey discovering humanistic mathematics. Among other things, I intend to touch upon my experiences with JHM, its evolution, and how all of this influenced my own relationship with mathematics, reflected in my teaching and writing.

Biography: Gizem Karaali completed her undergraduate studies in electrical engineering and mathematics at Bogaziçi University, Istanbul, Turkey. After receiving her PhD in Mathematics from the University of California Berkeley, she taught at the University of California Santa Barbara for two years. She is currently employed as a mathematician at Pomona College where she enjoys teaching a wide variety of courses and working with many interesting people. Gizem is one of the founding editors of Journal of Humanistic Mathematics and is a Sepia Dot (a 2006 Project NExT fellow).

10:50-11:10AM David Talbot (University of Toronto Alumni - Industrial Engineering)
Discovering and implementing ways to enable every child to experience and love Mathematics and Statistics

Abstract: Recent breakthroughs in brain research using functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) have identified an area of the brain that "lights up" or demonstrates a surge of brain activity when the subjects are presented with certain images that are perceived to be "beautiful" by the subject. Works of art, masterpieces of music, logos, religious symbols and even mathematical formulae have been shown to produce these results. The more "beautiful" the greater is the surge activity in the "emotional" part of the brain. In the case of Mathematicians, Euler's Identity triggered the emotional response in the brain. With this newly discovered ability to measure the emotional response, perhaps we can now objectively address the problem of how to turn on the next generation to Mathematics and Statistics. For those of us who love Mathematics, we all have stories of what it was that turned us on and probably lit up our brains. Something happened to us. We saw something or we felt something that moved us. The presenter will share his story of "when the light bulb went on" and created his love of Math and Stats. Participants will be asked to share their stories. If you would care to step into our MRI machine while you tell us your story, you may be able to enable the next generation to experience what we experienced.

Biography: David Talbot graduated from Industrial Engineering at the University of Toronto in 1965. He has a distinguished career in systems engineering, management consulting and strategic planning in both the public and private sectors. He is a retired Professional Engineer, former President and Fellow of the Institute of Management Consultants of Ontario and Director of the International Council of Management Consulting Institutes. His current position is Executive Director of the eiphiny Society, an organization created to discover and implement ways for every child to experience Meaningful Emotional Humanistic Mathematical Experiences (MEHMEs) and eipiphinies.

11:10-11:30AM Marcel Danesi (University of Toronto)
A semiotician's look into the power of mathematical symbols in media and communication

Biography: Marcel Danesi is professor of linguistics anthropology and semiotics at the University of Toronto. He has worked extensively on the relation between mathematics and symbolism and how it affects learning math. He is currently Editor-in-Chief of "Semiotica" the leading journal in the field of semiotics. He is also a co-director (with D. Martinovic and R. Núñez) of the Cognitive Science Network at the Fields Institute for the study of how mathematics is learned in cultural settings.

11:30AM-12PM Panel discussion with all presenters.

12:00-1:00PM LUNCH BREAK
(Light refreshments provided. The lunch will be serviced back at Fields)

1:00-2:00PM General Discussion: The audience will be invited to talk about their own personal exposure to and appreciation of aesthetic dimensions of mathematics

2:00pm Adjournment

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