Volume 7 Number 2, May 1992

Highlights from the ISGEm Business Meeting in Nashville

A complete collection of ISGEm Newsletters will be available at ICME-7 in Quebec ($5 for members, $10 for nonmembers).

Membership cards will also be available at ICME-7 in Quebec.

As of 12/31/91, ISGEm had 152 paid members.

Addison-Wesley hosted a reception following the business meeting.

Special Interest Group leaders made reports on their activities. The four SIG coordinators will initiate the process this September to organize sessions for the 1994 NCTM Conference. Individuals interested in participating may contact the leaders listed below:

Lawrence Shirley

Curriculum and Classroom Applications
Department of Mathematics
Towson State University
Towson, MD 21204-7079 USA

Jerome Turner
Theoretical Perspectives
Education Department
St. Francis Xavier University
Antigonish, Nova Scotia

Luis Ortiz-Franco
Researching Culturally Diverse Environments
Department of Mathematics
Chapman University
Orange, CA 92666 USA

Henry Gore
Out-of-School Applications
Department of Mathematics
Morehouse College
Atlanta, GA 30314 USA


Special Interest Group on Curriculum & Classrm Applications

The Special Interest Group on Curriculum and Classroom Applications is concerned especially with the classroom delivery of the ideas, philosophy, and examples of Ethnomathematics.

This may involve mathematical applications from various cultural and ethnic groups from around the world as in the many multicultural educational programs now being introduced. In some cases, this can help to build the self-esteem of students as they see that their home culture or the culture of their ancestors has used mathematics and contributed to the development of mathematics. It can encourage students from underrepresented groups of the population to continue and to excel in mathematics by demonstrating historical and present role models and generally by showing that people of their groups can indeed succeed in mathematics. Several ISGEm members have given workshops for teachers and students, demonstrating mathematics in African, Asian, and Native American cultures. Others have contributed to publications of textbooks and supplementary materials.

A broader definition of Ethnomathematics comes from a more inclusive meaning of "cultural groups". It can include groupings by gender, occupation, age, etc. In the classroom, this means reaching out to include more positive roles of women in mathematics and, notably, applying the NCTM Standards of Mathematical Connections to see mathematics in many different careers and the daily life of children and adults. ISGEm members have been involved with these activities by participating in curriculum development programs and conference presentations which emphasize mathematics in our life and our world.

When the SIG met briefly in Nashville in April 1992, the feeling was that too often it is hard to learn of on-going curricular programs and presentations of cultural examples for the classroom. Therefore, if you are involved in workshops, textbooks, or conference presentations which are related to classroom use of Ethnomathematics, please inform the SIG coordinator, who will try to compile and exchange this news, either through this Newsletter or through letters to the SIG's own mailing list. If you want to be on that mailing list please contact:

Lawrence Shirley
Department of Mathematics
Towson State University
Towson, MD 21204-7079 USA


Participating in the 1993 NCTM Research Presession

If you are interested in making a presentation on Ethnomathematics at the Research Presession of the NCTM Meeting in Seattle (March 30, 1993) please send your name, affiliation, address, phone & fax numbers, NCTM membership number, and a descriptive title to:

Jerome Turner
Education Department
St. Francis Xavier University
Antigonish, Nova Scotia, CANADA B2G 1C0


ICME-7 Working Group on Multicultural/Multilingual Classrooms

Plans are proceeding for Working Group 10 "Multicultural and Multilingual Classrooms" that will be part of ICME-7 in Quebec in August 1992. The Working Group will meet for four sessions of 90 minutes each. The first session will be for posters describing projects and displays of materials. The next two sessions will be in subgroups to facilitate discussion and the development of action plans. The fourth and final session will be a total group meeting with reports from the subgroups and discussion.

If you would like to participate in the Working Group on "Multicultural and Multilingual Classrooms" please contact the Organizer of the subgroup in which you have the most interest:

Curriculum, Resources & Materials for Multicultural\Multilingual Classrooms

Vera Preston
1209 Doonesbury Dr.
Austin, TX USA

Teacher Education for Math in Multicultural\Multilingual Classrooms
David Davison
1809 Sagebrush Rd.
Billings, MT 59105 USA

Multicultural\Multilingual Classrooms & the Curriculum for the XXIst Century
Jan Thomas
Victoria University of Tech
Dept of Teacher Education
P.O Box 54
Footscray 3011 AUSTRALIA

Vernacular Language and Culture in the Math Education of Indigenous Groups
Elisa Bonilla
Depto de Inv Educ, CINVESTAV
Periférico Sur 2775, A-501
México, DF 10200 MEXICO

If you need an official invitation to facilitate your participation contact the Chief Organizer (Rick Scott, College of Education, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM 87131 USA, E-mail: scott@unmb) who will communicate your request to the Program Committee.


ICME-7 Topic Group on Ethnomathematics & Math Education

Plans are proceeding for Topic Group 2 "Ethnomathematics and Mathematics Education" that will be part of ICME-7 in Quebec in August 1992. The first session of the Topic Group will feature five or six reports on the situation around the world. The next session will consists of reports on the posters that have presented information of relevance to Ethnomathematics.

If you would like to participate in the Topic Group on "Ethnomathematics and Mathematics Education" contact:
Ubiratan D'Ambrosio
Caixa Postal 6063
13081 Campinas, SP BRAZIL


ISGEm & Criticalmath Educators Group to Cosponsor Post ICME-7 Meeting

ISGEm and the Criticalmathematics Educators Group will sponsor a one day Conference on August 24, 1992, immediately following ICME-7 in Québec. For further information please write:
Marilyn Frankenstein
College of Public and Community Service
University of Massachusetts - Downtown
Boston, MA 02125 USA


6th Central Am & Caribbean Meet on Teacher Prep & Research in Math Ed

The Sixth Central American & Caribbean Meeting on Teacher Preparation and Research in Mathematics Education will take place at the Autonomous University of the State of Morelos in Mexico from the 23rd to the 25th of July, 1992. For further information contact:
Ricardo Cantoral
Sección de Matemática Educativa
Nicolás San Juan No. 1421, Colonia del Valle
03100 México, DF, MEXICO


Pan-Am Conference: Pre-Columbian Math, Astronomy & Modes of Thought

The first Pan-American Conference on Pre-Columbian Mathematics, Astronomy and Modes of Thought will take place at Universidad Francisco Marroquín, in Guatemala City, and in Tikal, in the northern part of Guatemala, from Nov. 1-6, 1992. For further information contact:
Leonel Morales Aldaña
Universidad Francisco Marroquín
Apartado Postal 632-A
Guatemala, GUATEMALA


XIXth International Congress of History of Science

The XIXth International Congress of History of Science will be held from August 22-29, 1993 in Zaragoza, Spain. For further information contact:
Prof. Mariano Hormigón
Facultad de Ciencias (Matemáticas)
Ciudad Universitaria
50009 Zaragoza, SPAIN

"Have You Seen" is a regular feature of the ISGEm Newsletter in which works related to


Have You Seen

Ethnomathematics can be reviewed. We encourage all those interested to contribute to this column.

Gerdes, Paulus. Lusona: Geometrical Recreations of Africa, Higher Pedagogical Institute, Maputo, Mozambique, 1991, 118 pages.

Lusona (pl. sona) are drawings that come from a long tradition among the Tchokwe and other peoples of Angola. They are presented in this bilingual (English and French) version of the original publication in Portuguese. An introductory Chapter 1 is followed by an explanation of the lusona tradition of sand drawings. Chapter 3 contains some "find the missing figures" challenges and Chapter 4 presents figures that the reader is invited to include in self-constructed patterns of increasing complexity. The final chapter encourages readers to submit their own lusona to the author.

Note: Arthur Powell and others have formed the Instituto Superior Pedagógico Support Group (ISPSG) to "mobilize material support" for that Institute which Paulus Gerdes directs. They have copies of Lusona for a donation of $10 or more you can order from:
ISP Support Group
c/o Arthur Powell
Academic Foundations Department
Rutgers University
Newark, NJ 07102 USA


Washburn, Dorothy K. (1990). Style, Classification and Ethnicity: Design Categories on Bakuba Raffia Cloth. Transactions of the American Philosophical Society, Vol. 80 , Pt. 3, 157 pages.

Dr. Washburn's study addresses a persistent problem in the analysis of material culture: the fact that type and style categories are typically determined by features selected by investigators rather than those salient to the original makers and users. The author uses sorting procedures from experimental psychology as well as participant observation and interviews to discover nonverbalized and verbalized features that people use as criteria for object categories. The study shows that while two kinds of features are used for category definition--object-specific features and basic perceptual properties--the style of a culture is primarily defined by the way the basic properties are specifically manipulated. This thesis is illustrated by a study of named pattern categories on Bakuba raffia cloth.

The theoretical premise of emic categories, the focus on the kinds of features used in object category definition, and the methodological utility of informant photograph sorting and informant response to computer generated patterns in order to assist in the discovery of categories and their salient features should be of interest to Ethnomathematicians.

The volume is available for $20 from The American Philosophical Society, Box 40098, Philadelphia, PA 19106, USA.


Borba, Marcelo C. (1992). Teaching Mathematics: Ethnomathematics, the Voice of Sociocultural Groups. The Clearing House, vol. 65, no. 3, p. 134-135.

This article suggests that ethnomathematics has "brought political issues into the mathematics education debate" and that "The very power of ethnomathematics and of the work done in this area challenges the notion that mathematics is only produced by mathematicians". It also briefly summaries ethnographic research completed by the author "to map some of the mathematical ideas and activities of children in a slum that developed into an interdisicplinary project in an informal educational setting". That work is published in his Master's thesis, Um Estudo de Etnomatemática: sua Incorporação na elaboração de uma proposta pedagógica para o "Núcleo-Escola Vila Noguiera-São Quirino", UNESP, Río Claro, São Paulo, Brazil.


Harris, Pam (1991). Mathematics in a Cultural Context: Aboriginal Perspectives on Space, Time and Money, Deakin University Press, Geelong, Victoria 3217, AUSTRALIA, US$29.95.

This book presents the findings of the Mathematics in Aboriginal Schools Project in a single, commercially available volume. The new introduction and appendices describe the context of remote Aboriginal Australia and the schools where the research was done. These descriptions and the accompanying maps and other illustrations were designed to be of particular help to overseas readers and others who have no first-hand knowledge of the context of Aboriginal education in remote communities in Australia. The section on money includes detail about the traditional economies of Australian Aborigines.


Shan, Sharan-Jeet and Bailey, Peter. Multiple Factors: Classroom Mathematics for Equality and Justice, Trentham Books Ltd, 13/14 Trent Trading Park, Botteslow Street, Stoke-on-Trent, ENGLAND ST1 3LY, £13.95.

This book illustrates how current teaching methodology and school management and the bias in existing textbooks can and often do disadvantage black, working class and girl students, and how this might be changed. The authors have gathered their mathematics from sources across the world and from a multiplicity of disciplines: from Vedas, from global statistics, from architectural principles and art forms.


Turner, J. K. (1992). Complementarity, Ethnomathematics, and Primary Education in Bhutan, Canadian and International Education, 21 (1), p. 16-36.

This article presents a succinct statment of Dr. Tuner's Ethnomathematical research that was conducted in Bhutan from 1986 to 1988. The principle of complementarity is utilized as a theoretical structure for the concept of Ethnomathematics, and the author argues that an Ethnomathematical teaching medium is essential for achieving UNICEF's GOBI (the growth monitoring, oral rehydration, breast feeding, and immunization of children throughout the world) project in the Developing World._______________________________

New Members

Martha Brown, 7905 Den Meade Ave, Fort Washington, MD 20744 USA, works in curriculum development.

Thomas Hülsmann, Service d'Administration des Projets, B.P. 869, Antanarivo, MADAGASCAR, is involved in the production of primary mathematics books.

Maurice Vodounon, 445 W. 59 St, Dept of Math, John Jay College, New York, NY 10019, USA, works on algorithms in the game Adji om Bahomey.

Barbara Jean Kahn, Box 154, Gibbsboro, NJ 08026, USA, is engaged in an independent study on Ethnomathematics.

James Morrow, Math Dept, Mount Holyoke College, South Hadley, MA 01075, USA.

Constantino Jose Machado da Sousa, Jose de Patrocinio 97, 96400 Rio Grande do Sul, BRASIL

Jim Rauff, Math Dept, Millikin University, Decatur, IL 62522 USA, is working on a project on the proto-clamite-Indus connection via numerals.

Ellen Davidson, 30 Walnut St, Somerville, MA 02134, USA, does writing & workshops on multicultural education, cooperative learning, & learning & teaching.

ISGEm Advisory Board

Gloria Gilmer, President

Math Tech, Inc.

Ubi D'Ambrosio, 1st Vice President
Universidade Estadual de Campinas

David Davison, 2nd Vice President
Eastern Montana University

Luis Ortiz-Franco, 3rd Vice President
Chapman College

Claudia Zaslavsky, Secretary
New York, NY 10040 USA

Anna Glosgalvis, Treasurer
Milwaukee Public Schools

Patrick (Rick) Scott, Editor
University of New Mexico

Henry A. Gore, Program Assistant
Morehouse College

Jerome Turner, NCTM Rep
St. Francis Xavier University

David K. Mtetwa, Member-at-Large
Marlborough, Harare, ZIMBABWE

Lawrence Shirley, Member-at-Large
Towson State University

ISGEm Distributors

The following individuals print and distribute the ISGEm Newsletter in their region. If you would be willing to distribute the ISGEm Newsletter please contact the Editor.

Adele Gordon, Box 32410, Braam Fontein 2017, SOUTH AFRICA.

David Mtetwa, 14 Gotley Close, Marlborough, Harare, ZIMBABWE

Ubiratan D'Ambrosio, UNICAMP, Caixa Postal 6063, 13081 Campinas, SP BRAZIL

Andy Begg, Centre for Sicence & Math Ed Research, University of Waikato, Private Bag 3105, hamilton, NEW ZEALAND

Frédéric Métin, IREM, Moulin de la Housse, 51100 Reims, FRANCE

John Fauvel, Faculty of Mathematics, The Open University, Walton Hall, Milton Keynes MK7 6AA, UNITED KINGDOM