Introduction and Acknowledgments

The International Commission on the Teaching of Mathematics (Commission Internationale de l'Enseignement Mathématique, Internationale Mathematische Unterrichtskommission, Commissione Internazionale dell'insegnamento matematico) was created in 1908 during the IV International Congress of Mathematicians, which took place in Rome from 6 to 11 April of that year. Its first president was Felix Klein, an eminent mathematician and promoter of an important reform for teaching of mathematics in Germany; a substantial role in establishing the Commission was played by David Eugene Smith, a professor at Teachers College of New York, who was deeply interested in education and in the history of mathematics.
The original aim was to "make an inquiry and publish a general report on the current trends in the secondary teaching of mathematics in various countries". From then on, the International Commission on the Teaching of Mathematics - which in 1952 adopted the name International Commission on Mathematical Instruction (and its acronym, ICMI) - cycled through successive periods of greater or lesser activity (connected in part to the dramatic events of the first half of the twentieth century) until the late 1960s, when it had a genuine Renaissance. From that time the activities of the ICMI as well as the ample lines of research promoted by it have broadened enormously and have contributed step by step to the creation of a new discipline: research in mathematics education.

The aim of this website is to highlight the most significant events and the key figures of the ICMI in the course of the past one hundred years (1908-2008), through documents, images and interviews.
The quote of Felix Klein was featured on the site's homepage because it compellingly describes the importance of research in education not only for improving the teaching of mathematics in itself, but also, in a long-range perspective, for improving pure research:
I believed that the whole sector of Mathematics teaching, from its very beginnings at elementary school right through to the most advanced level research, should be organised as an organic whole. It grew ever clearer to me that, without this general perspective, even the purest scientific research would suffer, inasmuch as, by alienating itself from the various and lively cultural developments going on, it would be condemned to the dryness which afflicts a plant shut up in a cellar without sunlight. (cf. F. KLEIN, Göttinger Professoren. Lebensbilder von eigener Hand. 4. Felix Klein, Mitteilungen des Universitätsbundes Göttingen, 5, 1923, p.24)

The document used for the background is one that is intimately connected with the early history of the ICMI, a memo by Klein dated 31 March 1913 about a meeting with Walther Lietzmann to prepare for the next meeting of the Central Committee in order to decide the organisation of the Paris congress, the first real international congress dedicated to mathematics education, which would take place the following year. The phrase that can just be seen under the site's title is taken from a letter dated 4 March 1915 from Klein to Guido Castelnuovo a member of the Central Committee of the ICMI, and refers to Klein's reflections on resigning as President of the Commission following political pressure due to his supporting German patriotism during WW I.

The site is divided into the following six sections (some of which are divided into subsections): Timeline; Portrait Gallery; Documents; The Affiliated Study Groups; The International Congresses on Mathematical Education; Interviews and Film Clips.

The Timeline is divided into two levels, the first of which is more concise and presents essential facts, while the second is more detailed. Its aim is to point out the most significant moments in the history of the ICMI (people, congresses, interactions with other entities, etc.), and to show how its activities were broadened and differentiated during the second half of the twentieth century. Each fact is amply documented, with references to L'Enseignement Mathématique (with links to its website), the Commission's official publication, to the ICMI Bulletins, to the Internationale Mathematische Nachrichten, and to all other documentation that was deemed of interest.
Livia Giacardi

The Portrait Gallery is divided into two subsections, the first of which presents the complete list of the officers of the ICMI, the cameos of those who are no longer living, while the second presents those of people who were awarded honorary membership during the ICM in Oslo (1936). Very precise criteria were used in compiling the biographies so as to respect the nature and aims of the website. The goal was to make evident each person's role within the ICMI, his contributions to research on the problems of teaching, and the publications expressly dedicated to education.
Giorgio T. Bagni, Eric Barbazo, Margherita Barile, Gregg De Young, Fulvia Furinghetti, Livia Giacardi, Hélène Gispert, Shigeru Iitaka, Masami Isoda, Sten Kaijser, Jeremy Kilpatrick, Henrik Kragh Sørensen, Snezana Lauwrence, Michela Malpangotto,Milosav M. Marjanovic, Fabio Mercanti, Eduardo Ortiz, Osmo Pekonen, Adrian Rice, Harm J. Smid, Gert Schubring, Reinhard Sigmung-Schultze, Man-Keung Siu, Stevo Todorcevic

The section dedicated to Documents presently contains the publications of the Central Committee, with links to digitalised versions in .pdf format; the texts of the questionnaires used during inquiries and the relative reports, with links to L'Enseignement Mathématique; the list of the ICMI Studies and their relative volumes; the ICMI Bulletins, with links to the ICMI website where the Bulletins from no. 39 forward are available. Scanning of the earliest bulletins is now underway by a team at the Institut für Didaktik der Mathematik in Bielefeld under the aegis of the International Mathematical Union.
Other documents will be added as research goes forward: articles relevant to mathematics teaching written by ICMI officers, bibliographic information, archival documentation, etc.
Fulvia Furinghetti, Livia Giacardi

The section dedicated to Affiliated Study Groups presents the history of the groups HPM, ICTMA, IOWME, PME, and WFNMC, beginning with their creation, in some cases supplemented by an ample photo gallery.
HPM - Florence Fasanelli, John G. Fauvel
ICTMA - Ken Houston, Peter Galbraith and Gabriele Kaiser
IOWME - Heather Mendick, with contributions from Claudie Solar, Christine Keitel, Gila Hanna, Heleen Verhage, Hilary Povey, Leone Burton, Máire Rodgers, Mary Barnes, Nancy Shelley, Pat Rogers, Roberta Mura
PME - (in preparation)
WFNMC - Petar Kenderov

The section dedicated to the ICME Congresses lists the ten congresses that have taken place up to now and offers general information about each, with complete bibliographical references for the Proceedings and their contents, and the Resolutions of the Congress.
Marta Menghini

The final section, Interviews and Film Clips is dedicated to the testimony of some of the protagonists of the history of the ICMI: Emma Castelnuovo, Trevor Fletcher, Geoffrey Howson, Maurice Glaymann, Jean-Pierre Kahane, Heinz Kunle, André Revuz, Bryan Thwaites, who describe, through their own experiences and the people they knew, little known aspects of this history.
Michèle Artigue, Bernard Hodgson, Gert Schubring


At this point in the work, which we think should still be completed and further enriched, we wish to thank all of those who have helped make it possible, first of all, Michèle Artigue, ICMI President; Bernard Hodgson, ICMI Secretary General; Ferdinando Arzarello, the Chair of the International Program Committee of the Centennial Celebration; and then all of the entities who have contributed financial support: the Department of Mathematics of the University of Turin, whose Director was Angelo Negro at first, and is now Ferdinando Arzarello; the Fondazione Filippo Burzio of Turin, in the person of President Valerio Zanone and of Vice President Roberto Weigmann; and the Associazione Subalpina Mathesis, in the person of President Franco Pastrone.

Special thanks to CultureMATH (Ecole Normale Supérieure, Paris), to the University of Karlsruhe, and to the ICMI for their support of the interview videos.

Our warmest thanks go to all the authors listed above, to those who have graciously conceded interviews, and to the colleagues and friends who have worked with us towards the successful completion of the work: Daniel Coray, Marta Menghini, Gert Schubring.

We are deeply grateful to the directors of the archives and libraries: Jouni Nikula, Secretary of the Central Archives of the University - Helsinki; to Raniero Orioli, Director of Secretarial Services and General Affairs of the Accademia dei Lincei - Rome; to Silvia Marsico, Director of the Biblioteca del Dipartimento di scienze dell'educazione e della formazione - Torino, to Laura Garbolino, Antonella Taragna, Anna Dagnese, Renzo Vienna, and above all, Franco Bessone of the Biblioteca Matematica "Giuseppe Peano" of the Department of Mathematics of the University - Torino, for their valuable and efficient collaboration.

We also wish give warm thanks to those who in various ways have helped us in our research: Andrea Astesiano, Margherita Barile, Mariolina Bartolini Bussi, Kristín Bjarnadóttir, Raimondo Bolletta, Sandro Caparrini, Alberto Conte, Guillermo Curbera, Joel Hillel, Stéphane Jaffard, Elisa Gallo, Paola Gario, Olli Lehto, Michele Pellerey, Pascale Pombourcq, Christine Proust, Marie-Françoise Roy, Susanna Serafini, Erika-Luise Steiner, Giuliano Testa, Hisao Fujita Yashima.

We are pleased to thank Kim Williams for reviewing the English texts, Francesca Ferrara and Giovanni Preziuso for assistance and support.

Warm thanks also go to Tiziana Armano for the patience and sensitivity with which she took care of the multimedia aspects of the website, working on her own time.

Finally, and most importantly, thank you to our families for their patience and moral support.

Torino, 28 February 2008

Livia Giacardi
Department of mathematics
University of Turin
Fulvia Furinghetti
Department of mathematics
University of Genova