21st Century Mathematics
"What should students learn in the 21st Century?"

A global conference of the CENTER FOR CURRICULUM REDESIGN

in collaboration with the
and the


What should students learn in the 21st century? This conference will discuss top-level changes in the Math school curriculum, in terms of what topics and branches should be added, and just as crucially, what should be removed.


In the 21st century, humanity is facing severe difficulties at the societal (global warming, financial stresses), economic (globalization, innovation) and personal levels (employability, happiness). Technology's exponential growth is rapidly compounding the problems via automation and off-shoring, which are producing social disruptions. Education is falling behind the curve, as it did during the Industrial Revolution. The last profound changes to curriculum were effected in the late 1800's as a response to the sudden growth in societal and human capital needs. As the world of the 21st century bears little resemblance to that of the 19th century, education curricula are overdue for a major redesign.

This is all the more true in Science/Technology/Engineering/Math (STEM), where demand is outpacing supply worldwide. Math being the foundation of STEM, and in turn innovation, the situation requires urgent attention. Beyond STEM professions, we are seeing very significant innumeracy in a very large segment of the population, which has severe consequences on the ability to understand the world's difficulties.

Key questions to explore:

What should the goal of mathematics be in the 21st century?
  a. What are the reasons for teaching mathematics? (as a tool, to train abstract thinking, to train logic and reasoning, the ability to argue/as a way of expression?)
  b. How have the goals of mathematics drifted over time? (Priest class-- logic, merchant class--accounting, trade class-- measurement and geometry, and how this changed after the industrial revolution)
  c. How does the present system achieve or fail to achieve these goals?
  d. What is the role of Higher Ed accreditation in perpetuating the status quo?
  e. What branches of mathematics matter to the widest number of professions? Are they adequately represented in the curriculum?
f. What is "math for the real-world"? How do most professions use Maths? What could they use they are not learning?
2. What are the best practices curricula from around the world? How do these succeed or fail to achieve the needs and possibilities of the 21st century?
  a. When should math be a separate topic, vs just-in time practice embedded in other disciplines such as Robotics?
  b. In reverse and for instance, should financial literacy be part of Mathematics?
  c. When should we continue leading in formalism, vs transpose and lead with examples and applications to guide students into formalism?
  d. How do we inject skills (Creativity, Critical Thinking, Communication, Collaboration) into math knowledge acquisition?
  e. How do we inject Character attributes (perseverance, ethics etc) into math knowledge acquisition?
  f. Are computers offering a radically different approach that is underexploited? What is the difference between computer-assisted and computer-based?

Uniqueness compared to potentially similar global conversations:

  • Specificity, timeliness, granularity, and action-orientation of recommendations, and in particular what a 21st century Maths curriculum should be
  • Consequences for education agendas short/medium/long term. Setting the stage for extensive 2013 global Math curriculum redesign program, eventually including seminars for policymakers and educators.
  • Factoring in technology’s dislocative role to its full extent for explicit linkage between technology progress and Math education
  • Consequences on innovation agendas in general

*the conference will be conducted in English*