Minding your speech while speaking your mind

The Mathematics Education Group Research Seminar Series

Professor Anna Sfard will argue that the language used in mathematics education, far from being an innocent tool for describing reality, is a powerful means for shaping our vision of the world. As such, it is also responsible – for better and for worse – for much of the things we do in the classroom.

While taking a critical look at the dialogue that accompanies teachers’ everyday activities, such as assessing students’ work or dealing with learning difficulties, Anna will draw attention to the tensions that often exists between the words we use and the goals to which we explicitly commit. The seriousness of this problem stems from its invisibility, and is further aggravated by the inherent complexity of the task of controlling, let alone changing, our vocabulary. Anna will invite the audience to consider a number of possible ways to overcome this difficulty.

Professor Anna Sfard

Professor Anna Sfard

Professor of Mathematics Education
University of Haifa, Israel

2017 Miegunyah Distinguished Visiting Fellow
The University of Melbourne

Professor Anna Sfard is a distinguished scholar of international acclaim in the area of learning sciences, with a focus on the relationship between thinking and communication, which can be seen while studying mathematical thinking and its growth. She served as the first Lappan-Phillips-Fitzgerald Professor of Mathematics Education at the University of Michigan and as Professor of Mathematics Education at the Institute of Education in London. Most recently she has been Visiting Professor at the University of Johannesburg, at the University of California, Berkeley, and at University College of London. Professor Sfard is a 2017 Miegunyah Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the University of Melbourne. Professor Sfard now holds the position of Professor of Mathematics Education at the University of Haifa, Israel. She is frequently sought after as a keynote speaker at major international conferences in mathematics education and the learning sciences, and has spent extended periods of time in various universities as a visiting scholar in countries such as the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and South Africa.

Professor Sfard has received numerous awards for her research excellence. In 2007, she received the prestigious Hans Freudenthal Medal, the highest award made by the international mathematics education community. Her intellectual leadership in mathematics education theory and her substantial accomplishments in educational research were recently recognised with a Fellowship of the American Educational Research Association in 2015 and she was elected as an international member of the National Academy of Education in the United States in 2016. Professor Sfard has published many influential papers, books, and chapters across a broad range of topics. Her contributions to educational theory go well beyond mathematics education and her work is extensively cited by learning theorists in the broader scholarly community.