Abstract:Last year in Turkey, 32 undergraduate students from the Bogazici University faced prosecution for taking part in an antiwar demonstration on the campus of their university. Among them, there were two mathematics undergraduates. This attracted my attention to the case, and I attended, as an independent international observer, the second court hearing of their trial. In this paper, I describe in detail the procedure and the outcome of this court hearing.
Abstract: On October 15, 2019, I attended as an observer one of the hearings in the trial against thirty Turkish students from Bogazici University charged with terrorist propaganda after a spontaneous counter-demonstration on their campus (March 2018), a crime punished with one to five years in prison. They are judged by the 32nd Court in Istanbul. One of their previous hearings was observed and reported on by Ulla Karhumaki [see above].The trial should end on January 31st, 2020.
On 31 January 2020, we observed the sixth and last hearing in the trial of thirty students from Bogaziçi University, among them two Turkish mathematics students, who were charged with terrorist propaganda after an on-campus demonstration in March 2018.
The 32nd Court in Istanbul sentenced one of the two students in question to a suspended, 10 month imprisonment term (a verdict applied to 20 of the 30 students charged); and the other to a 10 month imprisonment term converted to a fine of 6,000 Turkish lira (a verdict applied to 7 students in total, with the remaining 3 acquitted).
Views expressed here are those of the observers, and do not represent positions taken by the societies to whom they will report.
Ever since Stratford first opened its doors, our mission has been to provide the absolute best learning environment, coupled with educators who care and who are amongst the most highly qualified in their field.
An ESRC-funded PhD studentship is available for October 2019 start in the Mathematics Education Centre at Loughborough University. The project is entitled Reasoning Skills in Post-16 Mathematics Students and the successful applicant will work with supervisors Lara Alcock and Nina Attridge and with collaborative partners Mathematics in Education and Industry.
The studentship can include an additional first year spent developing skills relevant to educational research via a research methods master’s. So the opportunity would ideally suit a well-qualified mathematics student or teacher who is interested in moving into research.
Applications for full-time PhD study to commence 1st October 2019 are now invited. Opportunities are available for both full-time and part-time PhD study, and two studentships will be available for allocation to full-time applicants, which cover fees, include a stipend (£14,999 per annum for 2019-20) plus £1250 travel allowance each year. Application deadline: Friday, 8th March 2019 More details and how to apply: http://www.mathematics.open.ac.uk/study/phd
The famous geneticist James Watson, of the double helix fame, about his relations with mathematics:
All through my undergraduate days I worried that my limited mathematical talents might keep me from being more than a naturalist. In deciding to go for the gene, whose essence was surely in its molecular properties, there seemed no choice but to tackle my weakness head-on. Not only was math at the heart of virtually all physics, but the forces at work in three-dimensional molecular structures could not be described except with math. Only by taking higher math courses would I develop sufficient comfort to work at the leading edge of my field, even if I never got near the leading edge of math. And so my Bs in two genuinely tough math courses were worth far more in confidence capital than any A I would likely have received in a biology course, no matter how demanding. Though I would never use the full extent of the analytical methods I had learned, the Poisson distribution analyses needed to do most phage experiments soon became satisfying instead of a source of crippling anxiety.
[From J. D. Watson, Avoid Boring People, Vintage Books, New York, 2010, p. 51]
The paper contains a sketch of a BSc Hons degree programme Mathematics (for Mathematics Education). It can be seen as a comment on Gardiner (2018) where
he suggests that the current dire state of mathematics education in England cannot
be improved without an improved structure for the preparation and training of
Effective preparation and training requires a limited number of national institutional units, linked as part of a national effort, and subject to central guidance. For recruitment and provision to be efficient and effective, each unit should deal with a significant number of students in each area of specialism (say 20–100). In most systems the initial period of preparation tends to be either
a “degree programme” of 4–5 years (e.g. for primary teachers), with substantial subject-specific elements, or
an initial specialist, subject-based degree (of 3+ years), followed by (usually 2 years) of pedagogical and didactical training, with some school experience.
This paper suggests possible content, and didactic principles, of
a new kind of “initial specialist, subject-based degree” designed for intending teachers.
This text is only a proof of concept; most details are omitted; those that are given
demonstrate, I hope, that a new degree would provide a fresh and vibrant approach
to education of future teachers of mathematics.
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The fragmented, learn-on-the-job English model for ITE is not working.
About this there is little dispute. We analyse why such a system cannot
possibly work for mathematics teaching. We also suggest the need for an improved national framework for teacher preparation and development, based on a limited number of specialist centres, which accumulate expertise over time, and through which planned programmes might be effectively delivered.
Some of key findings (edited with focus on mathematics):
Teacher shortages and other pressures
Pupil numbers have risen by around 10 % since 2010 – while teacher numbers have remained steady. This means that pupil-to-teacher ratios have risen from around 15.5 in 2010 to nearly 17 by 2018.
Teacher training applications are down by 5%, while training targets have been persistently missed in maths and science.
Exit rates have also increased, and are particularly high early on in teachers’ careers. Only 60% of teachers remained in state-funded schools five years after starting. For ‘high-priority’ subjects like physics and maths, this 5-year retention drops to just 50%.
Teacher pay has declined by about 10 % in real-terms since 2010 – but the recent announcement of pay rises of up to 3.5 % from September 2018 will halt this real-terms decline.
With many able to earn more outside of teaching, England faces a great challenge recruiting new graduates. In maths, average graduate salaries are £4,000 above those of teachers.
Highly-qualified teachers: variations by subject
Levels of teacher quality in secondary schools vary considerably depending on the subject:
Maths and most science subjects in particular struggle to attract highly-qualified teachers – with as little as half of teachers holding a relevant degree. Under 50% hold a relevant degree in maths and physics. These subjects, with the lowest proportion of highly-qualified teachers, are also those with the greatest recruitment and retention problems. […]
Highly-qualified teachers: London and the rest of England
There are stark differences in how highly-qualified teachers are represented in the most, and least deprived schools in England (at KS4). The socio-economic gap is much greater outside of London:
In areas outside of London, just over a third (37%) of maths teachers […] in the poorest schools had a relevant degree. In more affluent schools outside of London, the proportions are far higher for maths (51%) and chemistry (68%). […]
In London, differences in how highly-qualified teachers are represented are far smaller:
In maths, the proportion of teachers with a degree ranges between 40-50% for all schools, regardless of deprivation level […]
There is strong evidence that providing salary supplements to teachers in some subjects would alleviate shortages – such as in maths and science.
Schools in England are able to make such payments already – however, they would have to be drawn from existing budgets, which would present financial challenges.
The government should therefore consider a national salary supplement scheme,centrally funded and directed by the Department for Education.
Bonus payments of £5,000 for maths teachers are currently being trialled – yet this programme is limited in scope, and the pilot process may be lengthy. It also fails to target many local authorities that are the most in need of highly-qualified teachers.
Given the scale and severity of shortages in the teacher labour market, and the known links between teacher quality and pupil outcomes, the government should introduce salary supplements in hard-to-staff areas and subjects without delay.
There is considerable evidence to suggest that ‘degree algorithms’ (which translate the marks achieved by students during their degree into a final classification) are contributing to grade inflation. Approximately half of universities have changed their degree algorithms in the last five years “to ensure that they do not disadvantage students in comparison with those in similar institutions”. Research has also identified serious concerns about how these algorithms treat ‘borderline’ cases where a student’s overall mark is close to the boundary of a better degree classification. One expert concluded that “universities are essentially massaging the figures, they are changing the algorithms and putting borderline candidates north of the border”.