Sunday, January 14, 2018

CLIME Renaissance in 2018?

Figure 1 - NCTM Conference, 1995
Demise of Coalition of Essential Schools (CES)
In a recent blog, Larry Cuban writes about the demise of Ted Sizer’s Coalition of Essential Schools. In it he asks this question:
Is this a story of a reform birthed in one educational crisis dying during a later one? Or is it a story of a reform centered on one person who, over time, built an organization that lost ideas and energy while failing to generate sufficient funds after the founder left? Or is it a time-tested story of a reform that succeeded by spreading its progressive gospel far and wide appearing in many other policies, programs, and places?
Demise of CLIME?
After 30 years of participation in CLIME (Council for Technology in Math Education - an affiliate of NCTM) I’ve decided to step down and offer an opportunity for another individual to take the helm of an organization that has played a significant role over the years in keeping technology on the front burner of NCTM’s vision for quality mathematics education.

Like CES but on a smaller stage CLIME had some significant high points:

1. In the beginning there was Logo.
Seymour Papert was an inspiration for many math educators who believed that his Logo program and philosophy could make a huge difference in math education. An “after hours” meeting at the 1986 Washington NCTM conference resulted in the formation of a committee (of which I was a member) that eventually became that affiliate of NCTM in 1988.

2. The membership grew over the years.
In 1995 at CLIME’s annual “after hours” session (similar but on smaller scale to Dan Meyer’s Shadowcon) CLIME invited Seymour Papert to speak. Over a hundred educators attended the event anticipating Seymour’s talk. Unfortunately at the last minute Seymour was not able to attend, but the rest of the agenda (figure 1) went on as scheduled. An interesting side note is that as far as I know Seymour was never invited to speak at a NCTM function. What alarmed NCTM board directors was that he was critical of NCTM’s approach to reform. Judge for yourself. Here’s what he had to say in 2000.
I think they [the Standards] are going in the right direction but they are incredibly conservative, from my point of view. But again, I’d make reservation that if one has to work within the framework for schools as they are and curriculum as it is, maybe there isn’t very much room for making radical change. One of the ways in which the council is conservative is that it does not make full use of a computer-based construction of learning. I think the would have done much better if they had originally integrated Logo* in their proposals. But there is no question that an imaginative Logo-using teacher wants to follow these Standards can do it better with Logo.” - Seymour Papert**
3. In 1996 The CLIME newsletter went electronic and was named CLIME Connections. 
A Website was considered at Clime's 10th-anniversary Meeting in San Diego. The remarkable story of Daryl Stermon's Internet trailer intervention at the annual NCTM meeting that year is definitely worth a read. (I was there. I’m sorry I didn’t take pictures.)

4. In 2012 we made a significant difference with NCTM.
See the late Mark Workman’s letter to CLIME which acknowledged our contributions. For more details see my blog which acknowledges our resolution for improving how technology can be more effectively showcased at NCTM conferences.

5. In 2015 was there a paradigm shift?
A comparison of CLIME's after-hours sessions and Shadowcon. link

At that time (2015) I was hopeful that more meaningful changes were coming to NCTM. However, I was dismayed by two recent actions promoted by the current president of NCTM. First, there was the president’s post "Mathematics IS STEM Education." This was an indication to me that things at NCTM would be “business as usual” in a situation where the majority of students who are bored with math will continue to have to suffer that condition at least until a president shows up who doesn’t just toe the conventional wisdom, but also encourages creative and, yes, radical approaches to math curriculum reform in the spirit of Seymour Papert.

The second event is the highly anticipated roll out of the book "Catalyzing Change in High School Mathematics: Initiating Critical Conversations." Originally NCTM published a draft of this book for public review. Dan Meyer blogged his comments about it here. Here's a quote from Dan's blog:
NCTM proposes that all students take four years of math in high school. 2.5 of those years will comprise “essential concepts,” taken by every student regardless of career or college aspiration. Students may then take one of two paths through their remaining 1.5 years, one towards calculus, the other towards statistics and other electives.
Electives sound promising for good students who would love to get away from the 4 year "Royal Road to Calculus" path and do something more meaningful in the time they have left in high school. STEM programs which would be excellent alternatives are left out of the discussion. With all due respect, Mr. Larson, Math Education alone is NOT STEM education! For a senior that would do a STEM project that illuminates the mathematics that he has been learning could be a game changer for that student. He may actually see the value of math for the first time since elementary school.

So despite my recent disappointments with the turn of events, I'm an optimist at heart and believe strongly that we still need an organization that will not be afraid to step out of the box and challenge unproductive directions that NCTM likes to follow.  I hope one of you who agrees with me and will step forward and take the mantle of CLIME to the next level whatever that turns out to be. I will continue to be a friend of CLIME (our designation for member). If you are so inclined to lead CLIME into the future, please let me know ( Also, let me know if you are planning to attend the 30th annual CLIME meeting.

CLIME “After Hours” Meeting in Washington, DC
We will be holding a CLIME get together in Washington to celebrate 30 years of CLIME participation as an affiliate group of NCTM.

Date: Thursday, April 26, 2008
Time: 7:15-8:15 (right after Shadowcon)
Room: Marquis Salon 14 (Marriott Marquis)

Technology sessions in Washington Part1 Part2 Part3

Recommendation: The Panel recommends that computer programming be considered as an effective tool, especially for elementary school students, for developing specific mathematics concepts and applications, and mathematical problem-solving abilities. Effects are larger if the computer programming language is designed for learning (e.g., Logo) and if students’ programming is carefully guided by teachers so as to explicitly teach students to achieve specific mathematical goals.
** Here’s an 18-minute clip of Papert talking about middle school math as it was implemented in 2000. Have things changed all that much since? (I think not.)

For a more detailed look at CLIME's story (1986-present) see the link.


  1. Daryl Stermon writes:
    Ihor .. Thank you for the positive mention in part 3 ... Below .... It was a exciting time at the conference in 1996 ... Hard to imagine that was almost 22 years!!! Like you .. I have spent the 40 years of my career trying to get Technology into the classroom ... And particularly the Mathematics classroom ....

    As I think back to 1996 at the conference was just a magical time .. One of my fondest memories was that EVERY SESSION WAS SOLD OUT ... And as you might remember we had to have the lab and the trailer OPEN .. Before the meeting schedule , at lunch and after the meeting schedule .... People just wanted hands on ... And we felt we needed to give it to them .... Another warm fuzzy .. Was that about 40 teachers kept in touch with me over the next year ... As they tried things out in their classroom .. And I could remotely coach them .. It was great

    Again I truly appreciate all the all the leadership and time you have put into getting technology into the Mathematics classroom ... My hat is off and I’m bowing deeply at your feet .... Thanks for all you have done ... And our remote friendship over the years.

  2. Ihor,

    I'm torn. I simultaneously very much appreciate the work CLIME has done over the years but know that I cannot put even the basic amount of effort required to keep the organization going, because I don't have the time myself.

    I hope that you find someone with as much passion as you for this effort!


    1. Thanks, David. I hope to find someone soon. See you in Washington(?)