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What is HPM?

The International Study Group on the Relations between History and Pedagogy of Mathematics (HPM) dates to the second International Congress on Mathematical Education (ICME), held in Exeter, UK, in 1972. The Americas Section (North, South and Central America) of HPM was initiated in 1984, with the first chair being Florence Fasanelli, then at Sidwell Friends School in Washington, DC. Subsequent chairs of the section have been V. Frederick Rickey, Charles Jones, Victor Katz, Robert Stein, and David L. Roberts. HPM Americas is a semi-autonomous section of HPM, and thus affiliated to the International Commission on Mathematical Instruction (ICMI).

From 1993, and continuing for several years, HPM Americas was also an affiliated group of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM), and held annual meetings in conjunction with the NCTM annual meeting. In more recent times, HPM Americas has generally held stand-alone meetings, although occasionally meeting in conjunction with section meetings of the American Mathematical Society (AMS).

HPM Americas, like its parent organization, seeks to bring historical knowledge to the aid of mathematics instruction. This aid is broadly conceived. At the most explicit level, we promote the study of techniques for using history in mathematics classrooms, and the propagation of these techniques throughout the mathematics education community. Additionally, HPM Americas is interested in the history of teaching and learning mathematics, as this subject provides ideas and context for current approaches to pedagogy. We are also mindful of the vitally important role that history can play in maintaining a teacher’s interest in mathematics. History of mathematics has the potential, at any level, of making the teacher feel part of a much larger human endeavor. This can be valuable for classroom performance, even if it never shows up explicitly in the classroom. It is for this reason that HPM Americas continues to welcome straight history talks at its meetings.

The parent body of the Americas Section has its own site, http://www.clab.edc.uoc.gr/hpm. The international Newsletter can be accessed from this site. You can also access this newsletter from the HPM Americas web site.