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Partnerships across Borders

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by Lee V. Stiff, NCTM President 2000-2002
NCTM News Bulletin, September 2000

NCTM is the premier mathematics education organization in North America. Our membership includes a significant number of Canadian members, and we hold regional conferences and other meetings in Canada each year. But what about our other North American neighbor, Mexico? The time has come to develop a strong and collaborative relationship with our Mexican colleagues, and I've made that a goal of my presidency. We took a big step toward that goal this summer. In response to the hand of friendship extended by the Asociación Nacional de Profesores de Matemáticas (ANPM) in Mexico, I traveled to Saltillo, Coahuila, a thriving desert city about 100 kilometers southwest of Monterrey for ANPM's June regional congress. There I was scheduled to speak to the group on behalf of NCTM.

On my arrival at the conference site, I immediately felt right at home among all the mathematics teachers engaged in professional development for the improvement of mathematics instruction in their schools. I saw teachers who were excitedly participating in sessions and workshops, creating classroom materials, and listening intently to speakers sharing rich content and describing new developments. My hosts, Eduardo Mancera Martínez (past-president of ANPM) and Guillermina Carmona (president of the ANPM delegation from Coahuila), expressed deep appreciation for my visit. That evening, I attended a dinner for all participants sponsored by the Governor of Coahuila, Lic. Enrique Martínez y Martínez.

Over the course of the day, thanks to the help of my translator, Lic. Francisco Miguel Yañez Pichardo, I spoke with my hosts and other mathematicians and mathematics teachers about mathematics in the United States and Mexico and the importance of establishing closer ties between ANPM and NCTM. We talked about content, pedagogy, the uses of technology, and opportunities to learn mathematics in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Discussions of integrated mathematics and the role of technology were of great interest, as was problem solving in the classroom.

I talked about NCTM's new Principles and Standards for School Mathematics and shared my interest in equity issues, and an enlightening exchange occurred regarding the meaning of equity in the schools of Mexico compared with that in schools in the United States and Canada. Equity in Mexico includes concerns about the mathematics education of the haves and the have-nots and involves questions about the type of mathematics instruction that every child needs to guarantee a livelihood in the Mexico of today and tomorrow.

The next day, I had a formal meeting with the current president of ANPM, Luis Alejandro Rodríguez Aceves. From the beginning, we agreed that we would work to establish cooperation in ways that would benefit NCTM and ANPM and the children we serve. Open and frank discussion of concerns and issues resulted in a mutual respect for each other's organization and what it is trying to accomplish. We identified some collaborative goals and activities that seemed doable, and we agreed that ANPM and NCTM should establish--

  • an exchange of teachers and researchers to address problems of mutual concern in an effort to arrive at solutions appropriate for the students we each serve;

  • an exchange of publications and teaching materials found to be useful in our respective countries;

  • a greater NCTM participation in ANPM congresses and a greater ANPM participation in NCTM conferences, including attending and speaking at each other's meetings;

  • the sale of NCTM materials at ANPM congresses and the sale of ANPM materials at NCTM conferences;

  • joint membership drives;

  • mechanisms by which ANPM materials and NCTM materials can be translated for use in the United States and Canada and in Mexico, respectively. (ANPM expressed a strong interest in publishing translated NCTM articles for use by its members.)

My next step was to speak directly to ANPM's members. Although I planned to give most of the speech in English, I greeted the group in Spanish, "Buenas tardes. Como les han dicho, me llamo Lee Stiff. Soy presidente del Consejo Nacional de Profesores de Matemáticas, NCTM." My words were received warmly, with smiles and nods as I described examples of how ANPM and NCTM might work together in the future. The crowd gave me warm and generous applause as I concluded, in Spanish, "Espero que podemos establecer un diálogo para contestar estas preguntas y otras similares. Es mi deseo que eventualmente exista una fuerte y duradera relación entre los educadores de matemáticas de Canada, los Estados Unidos, y México. Gracias."(I hope that we can establish a dialogue to answer questions and similar concerns. It is my hope that, eventually, a strong and lasting relationship will exist among the mathematics educators in Canada, the United States, and Mexico. Thank you.)

So, a promising and potentially fruitful dialogue between ANPM and NCTM has been established. I hope a strong and lasting relationship between our two organizations will help to create mathematics classrooms all across North America that realize the vision of the Council--a high-quality mathematics education for every child.

Note: Please see our Web site, for more information about Principles and Standards and also NCTM's new Academy for Professional Development.

Partnerships across Borders

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