Dramatis persona*

helenhead Helen Chick

I've always wanted a bumper sticker that said "I'm a female, LDS/Mormon, Scout leading, geocaching, piano-playing, bicycling, mathematics educator with a PhD in maths ... and I VOTE"!

I think this makes me a minority group of cardinality 1!

* Since there's only one of me and "personae" is plural (I think), I've gone with dramatis persona.
March 2018
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Szeged Conference

As mentioned previously, my reason for being in Szeged was to attend a conference: the annual conference of the International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education (otherwise known as “PME”). We hosted this event last year in Hobart; this year I could relax (give or take a bit) and enjoy the organisational efforts of others.

The conference was hosted at one of the newer buildings of the University of Szeged. (Photo below by Susanna Oksanen)

b2016_08_02_515_Susanna Oksanen

One of the highlights of the opening ceremony was some Hungarian folk dancing performed by some local youth (about 11-14 years old, I’d guess). They were very talented.




There were some good sessions at the conference, but my involvement was complicated by the fact that I still had to keep up with teaching and work back at home (the conference is always scheduled for the northern-hemisphere summer, which means that the Europeans and North Americans can relax, while the Australians are either about to start second semester or are, as was the case for me this year with PME later than usual, already four weeks in). However, we all got a chance to let our hair down at the conference dinner, with some very energetic dancing in the warmth of the evening.


One of my main reasons for going to this conference was that I had been asked to chair the plenary panel debate, which was held the morning after the dinner. Fortunately people turned up for the occasion — including the speakers (!), at least one of whom had been up dancing even later than I was. The two teams were debating the proposition that “It is impossible to teach problem solving”, and I was “Madam Chair” — or Dragon Lady — for keeping everyone under control. The whole occasion was very successful, with some humour and serious argument. We had lots of positive feedback from the 300 or so delegates in attendance. (Debate photos by Susanna Oksanen.)

b2016_08_06_252_Susanna Oksanen

b2016_08_06_260_Susanna Oksanen

b2016_08_06_278_Susanna Oksanen

I just had time after this to finish preparing my own smaller presentation, which was presented to about 20 people just before lunch (there were about 16 parallel session, so, unlike the plenary, you are never quite sure how many people will be interested in your particular presentation compared to the others on offer). This went quite well, considering that the paper was mostly written by my coauthor (who couldn’t come) and was prepared so many months ago now that I could barely remember what it was about! There was some good discussion in the question time, and it was nice to have a high level of interest.

And then, in the afternoon, I had to skip some sessions in order to keep up to date with my online teaching. Maybe next year things won’t be quite so frantic. Umm, yeah, right … dream on.

2 comments to Szeged Conference

  • David

    Who won the debate? Is it possible to teach problem solving?

    • The winners were the “it IS possible to teach problem solving” team, both as a debating team and as an idea (we held two votes for the audience, one for the winning debaters and one to find out what people really thought about the principle). The opposition (actually the affirmative team) put up a good fight, even though none of them believed the “impossible to teach” premise.

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