The Budapest Semester in Math Education

I’m traveling to Hungary next week to visit the new Budapest Semester in Math Education (BSME) program. This program is intended for undergraduate students and recent graduates who are broadly interested in teaching mathematics, and promises to share Hungarian insights into mathematics and math education. BSME is already in its 3rd year, and has just announced the addition of a summer program.

I do feel compelled to admit that I have a fascination with mathematics in other countries. When I taught in Bard College’s Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) program, my students and I read and discussed The Teaching Gap by Hiebert and Stiegler, Knowing and Teaching Elementary Mathematics by Liping Ma, and we tried our hand at Japanese Lesson Study. Like many math circle leaders around the country, I’m curious about the content and pedagogy of math circles in Eastern European, especially Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania and Russia, where the US math circle movement traces its roots. I’ve also peeked into math textbooks like Singapore Math, and Russian textbooks.

I do also have a fascination with mathematics in this country. The history of math and math teaching in the US includes the math curricular reform movements like New Math, the Common Core State Standards, and everything in between, and before. It’s important to know about the Inquiry Based Learning (IBL) movement, the summer math “Epsilon Programs”, math contests and student math journals. The debate between “Back to the Basics” and “Conceptual Understanding” is just a small part of the required reading.

But what can we learn about math teaching from Hungary? I plan to write more about that during my visit to BSME.