Spirit of participating at PME conferences

Below you will find a letter about the spirit of PME conferences, which Fou-Lai Lin wrote to the members of IGPME when he was the president of IGPME.

Dear PME Members

PME as a scientific organization draws members from more than 40 countries around the world. Each year we come together at our annual Group conference to make new contacts, renew international connections and exchange research in mathematics education. Although PME in 2008 has more than 500 members, what constitutes PME as an organization lies beyond its numbers. As an organization we seek to learn from one another and to build our collective wisdom.

Participating in PME conferences provides opportunities to further our own individual research endeavours, develop research networks and contribute to the knowledge field.  Our individual efforts strengthen the PME community.  And these same efforts require us to attend to our responsibilities to the organization as a whole. We benefit personally by attending and participating in the conference, while the community benefits from our contributions. A healthy community in turn strengthens the personal support it provides. This synergy is the spirit of PME.

What is the current spirit of PME? Generally the PME conferences are a success. They are well attended with diverse and cutting edge research presented. However in recent years there have been numerous late arrivals to the conference, cancellation of papers to be presented, and early departures. At PME 32 almost half the participants left the conference before the last day resulting in final sessions with few attendees and limited opportunities for discussion. Each day multiple sessions were canceled because presenters did not attend. This is a concern. It is something as PME members we need to address. We need to consider not only the consequences of our individual contributions but also the consequences to the PME community.

Attending the conference from the beginning, presenting a paper and staying to the conference end conveys an awareness of a responsibility and commitment to the PME community. Let’s work together, support each other to continue to strengthen and live the spirit of PME.

Best regards
Fou-Lai Lin, Past PME President