29 August-2 September 1972, Exeter (UK) - ICME 2 is held
(EM II, XIX, 1973, 167-170)

The Congress, attended by 1384 participants from 76 countries (Cf. ICMI Bulletin 5, 1975, 20-24 ), is structured differently that the preceding one: there are only 9 invited lectures on themes of general interest and 38 working groups on more specific questions (see in this website the session on ICMEs ).
Although this structure made evident the richness of the problems of teaching, it also provoked a certain degree of fragmentation.
René Thom gave his famous lecture, entitled Modern mathematics: does it exist? , where he criticises the New Math movement, and in particular, the tendency to do away with geometry.

According to Thom
"The real problem which confronts mathematics teaching is not that of rigour, but the problem of the development of 'meaning', of the 'existence' of mathematical objects" ( p. 202 in A. G. Howson, Ed., Developments in Mathematical Education. Proceedings of the Second International Congress on Mathematical Education, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1973).

"The language of elementary geometry offers a solution to the following problem: to express in a one-dimensional combination - that of language - a morphology, a multi-dimensional structure. Now this problem recurs in a form 'everywhere dense' in mathematics, where the mathematician has to communicate his intuitions to others. In this sense, the spirit of geometry circulates almost everywhere in the immense body of mathematics, and it is a major pedagogical error to seek to eliminate it" (p. 208).
The Congress adopted the following Resolutions

  • "That all possible encouragement and assistance should be given to developing countries to make changes in their mathematical syllabuses and curricula";
  • Action should be taken in providing support to enable teachers of different areas to work together; in "publicising what is already being done in this direction in order to encourage others to attempt cooperative work"; in "providing support and encouragement for individuals and institutions to develop new teaching materials which cross disciplinary boundaries"; in "providing support for the production of source materials suitable for use in secondary schools … linking mathematics with other subjects".
  • Steps should be taken by ICMI to establish a centre for the interchange and dissemination of information on all matters of interest in Mathematics Education; and to encourage cooperation between journals in different languages (pp. 305-306).

October 1972 - Publication of the first issue of the ICMI Bulletin

In his Foreword ICMI President James Lighthill writes ;
"Future Bulletins will give not only information on ICMI activities but also lists, both of journals related to mathematical education and of national and international plans for mathematical competitions… It is my sincere hope that these Bulletins will make really useful contributions to the promotion of international understanding among those involved in teaching that uniquely international mode of thought: mathematics" (ICMI Bulletin, 1, 1972, 1).

G. Steiner
Hans Georg Steiner
1973 - Michael Otte, Hans Georg Steiner and Heinrich Bauersfeld found the Institut für Didaktik der Mathematik (IDM) at the University of Bielefeld
(ICMI Bulletin 3, 1974, 7-8).

The structure of the IDM is based on the division of work into the following three main groups: curricular developments; elaboration of a theoretical framework of research; promotion of young researchers and distribution of information. Steiner, who would shortly be nominated Vice-President of the ICMI, led the group that concentrated on curriculum development in the upper secondary grades. The work of this group was interdisciplinary and brought mathematicians nearer to mathematics teachers , sociologists and psychologists.

Abbey of Echternach
Abbey of Echternach
1973-1974 - Numerous Symposia are held with the co-sponsorship of the ICMI (EM II s., XIX, 1973, 171 ).

A new policy of holding Regional Symposia "to facilitate wider discussion of mathematical education outside those areas of Europe and America where international meetings on the subject have mainly been held hitherto" is adopted (EM II s. , XXI, 1975, 330).

4-9 June 1973, Echternach (Lussemburgo) - Seminar on New aspects of mathematical applications at school level 20 countries participate and 18 plenary lectures are given (ICMI Bulletin, 2, 1973, 3-4).
18-22 June 1973, Eger (Hungary) - Symposium on The theoretical problems of teaching mathematics in primary schools There are 210 participants from 18 countries, and 18 plenary lectures are given (ICMI Bulletin, 2, 1973, 5).
1-11 September 1974, Nairobi (Kenya) - Symposium on Interactions between linguistics and mathematical education. The objectives of the Symposium are:
  • to contribute to the systematization within the field of those difficulties in mathematical education which pertain to linguistics;
  • to identify pedagogical approaches that may help the African learner of mathematics to overcome those of his difficulties which arise from his own linguistic background;
  • to identify problems calling for further studies and research
  • to provide a report which would be of service to mathematics educators in all, but particularly in African countries (ICMI Bulletin, 3, 1974, 3-7, ICMI Bulletin, 4, 1975, 6-8).
16-20 September 1974, Bielefeld (West Germany) - ICMI-IDM Symposium on The teaching of Geometry (ICMI Bulletin, 4, 1975, 8-9).
5-9 November 1974, Tokyo (Japan) - Symposium on Curriculum and teacher training for mathematical education (ICMI Bulletin, 4, 1975, 9).

August 1974, Harrison Hotsprings (Canada)

At the General Assembly of IMU the following Resolution 5 is adopted:
"The General Assembly received a report by Professor Sir James Lighthill on the work of the ICMI. The General Assembly expresses its great appreciation of the activities of ICMI in every aspect of mathematical education, particularly in developing countries, and it hopes that this work will continue to grow, and that the mathematical needs of other scientific disciplines will be taken into consideration" (EM II s. , XXI, 1975, 335).

21-29 August 1974, Vancouver (Canada) - the XVII International Congress of Mathematicians under the presidency of Harold S.M. Coxeter
The inaugural session takes places in the Queen Elizabeth Theatre
The inaugural session takes places
in the Queen Elizabeth Theatre

3121 members from 73 countries participate. In his inaugural address, Coxeter says:
"Why, then, do we now come together from all the countries on earth? What do we have in common? Perhaps it is our appreciation of patterns of abstract ideas, our striving for order and truth and beauty in a world full of confusion and deceit and pollution" . (Cf Proceedings of the International Congress of Mathematicians, August 21-29 1974 Vancouver, Canadian Mathematical Congress, 2 vols., 1975, I, xv-xvi)
Vancouver 1974
The XX section is devoted to History and Education and includes two talks concerning teaching: G. Matthews, Science as Handmaiden of Mathematics , C. Truesdell, How to Understand and Teach the Logical Structure and the History of Classical Thermodynamics (II, pp. 571-586). In the Proceedings are listed 9 communications concerning the teaching of mathematics (II, pp. 287-298) .

The ICMI Executive Committee resolves to consider the Inter-American Committee on Mathematical Education (IACME) as an effective regional group, and in agreement with IACME has set up a formal machinery of co-operation along precise lines (ICMI Bulletin, 4, 1974, 11).

Executive Committee of ICMI for the period 1975-1978:
Shokichi Iyanaga
Shokichi Iyanaga

President: S. Iyanaga
Vice-Presidents: B. Christiansen, H. G. Steiner
Secretary: Y. Kawada
Members: E. Begle, L. D. Kudrjavcev
Ex officio: J. Lighthill (Past President of ICMI), D. Montgomery
(President of IMU), J.-L. Lions (Secretary of IMU), H. Freudenthal (CTS/ICSU)
Members at large: E. Castelnuovo, J. Lelong-Ferrand, B.H. Neumann, Z. Semadeni, J. Surányi (EM II s., XXI, 1975, 331-333), P. L. Bhatnagar
(ICMI Bulletin, 5, 1975, 7).

42 countries nominate their delegates.

1975 - Numerous congresses are held.

18-22 August, 1975, Nyiregyháza (Hungary) - The colloquium on The evolving a mathematical attitude in the secondary education (age range 14-18 years). 139 participants come from 17 countries. There are 13 plenary lectures (ICMI Bulletin, 6, 1975, 7-9).
25-28 August, 1975, Warsaw (Poland) - The symposium on Combinatorics and probability in primary schools, organised by the Polish national subcommittee of ICMI. There are 82 participants, of which 31 are from abroad. There are 9 plenary lectures (ICMI Bulletin, 6, 1975, 10-11).
1-5 September, 1975, Marseille (France) - Second world conference on computers in education. There are some 1000 participants from 50 countries. There are 18 plenary lectures. In all 216 papers are presented at the 70 sessions (ICMI Bulletin, 7, 1976, 4-7).
1-6 December 1975, Caracas (Venezuela) - The fourth Inter-American conference on mathematical education. There are 282 participants, of whom 178 from Venezuela and 104 from 22 foreign countries. There are 14 one-hour addresses (ICMI Bulletin, 7, 1976, 19-21).
15-20 December 1975, Bharwari (India) - Regional conference on development of integrated curriculum in mathematics for developing countries in Asia. Besides India the following countries participate: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Iran, Iraq, Malaysia, Singapore and Sri Lanka. The participants are divided into five panels covering different level of education: primary, lower secondary, upper secondary, college, teacher's training. There are 3 one-hour addresses and 3 half-hour talks (ICMI Bulletin, 7, 1976, 8-18).

26-31 July 1976, Rabat (Marocco) - First Pan-African Congress of Mathematicians on Les mathématiques et le developpement de l'Afrique.

A session of the congress is dedicated to the teaching of mathematics in Africa. There are 171 participants from 23 African countries and 15 from foreign countries (ICMI Bulletin, 8, 1976, 4-8).

16-21 August 1976, Karlsruhe (Germany) - ICME 3 (EM II s. , XXI, 1976, 317-320).

The congress is attended by 1831 full members from almost 80 countries; in addition 237 associate members attend. The emphasis of the Congress program is on the main papers presented by 5 invited speakers, the 13 sections, the poster-sessions and a panel discussion on "What May in the future Computers and Calculators Mean in Mathematical Education?" By invitation of the Local organizing Committee 15 larger projects from 6 countries (USA, Great Britain, France, Italy, Netherlands and Germany) are presented (ICMI Bulletin, 8, 1976, 9-13).

The Congress adopted the following Recommendations
  1. ICMI should continue and increment its cooperation with other associations devoted to furthering mathematical and scientific education;
  2. National Subcommittees if ICMI should be reactivated;
  3. Internationally composed committees, working groups and study groups which have been established in order to study and further particular areas of research in mathematical education, are invited to continue their work. Moreover it is recommended that the theme "Women and Mathematics" be an explicit theme of the next ICME (Cf. Proceedings of the Third International Congress on Mathematical Education , Karlsruhe, Organizing Committee of the 3rd ICME, 1977, 385-386).
ICME 3, Karlsruhe 1976, Opening lecture.
ICME 3, Karlsruhe 1976, Opening lecture.
On the front row from the right: Kunle, Mrs. Kunle,
Iyanaga, Mrs. Behnke, Christiansen,
Hanne Christiansen, Steiner and wife, Greenhill
The results of the thirteen sections of the Congress were collected in a book published by UNESCO, New trends in mathematics teaching, Vol. IV (1979), prepared by the International Commission on Mathematical Instruction.

1976 - The International Study Group on the Relations between the History and Pedagogy of Mathematics (HPM), an affiliated Study Group of ICMI, is established
(Cf. ICME 3, Recommendations (c), (ICMI Bulletin, 10, 1978, 26-27).

1976 - The International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education (PME), an affiliated Study Group of ICMI, is established
(Cf. ICME 3, Recommendations (c))

From 1976 on

There was an explosion of ICMI activity, which is diversified and amplified enormously with the creation of new Affiliated Study Groups, (IOWME, 1987; WFNMC, 1994; ICTMA, 2003), with the inauguration in 1985 of the ICMI Studies , and with the continuation of the ICME quadrennial congresses . The ICMI Bulletin becomes richer, and starting in 1974 it goes from annual to semi-annual publication.

In 1975 the countries represented are 42 (ICMI Bulletin, 5, 1975, 7);
in 1979, 42 (ICMI Bulletin, 12, 1981, 4-5);
in 1983, 51 (ICMI Bulletin, 13, 1983, 8-11);
in 1987, 57 (ICMI Bulletin, 24, 1988, 30-34);
in 1991, 56 (following the fall of the Berlin Wall, Germany has a single representative instead of two (ICMI Bulletin, 31, 1991, 10-16);
in 1995, 62 (ICMI Bulletin, 38, 1995, 39-45);
in 1999, 63 (ICMI Bulletin, 47, 1999 );
in 2003, 61 (ICMI Bulletin, 54, 2004 );
in 2006, 64 .

The documentation is immense, and is in large part available on Internet.

Livia Giacardi
March 2008