This is a good question and one with an answer that, to paraphrase Fermat, “this page is to small to contain“. However here are some salient facts.
I am English educated, getting a Maths degree at Cambridge University and my teaching qualification in London. For the last 33 years I have worked in Singapore, Geneva, Hong Kong and Lima. All of these are IB Diploma schools, so I have been teaching IB Maths and TOK for all that time. I was also chair of the IBs Diploma Programme Committee for a few years. For the last 20 years i have been School Principal first at The international School of Geneva and then at Island School, Hong Kong and currently at Markham College, Lima, Peru.
My good luck is that I started working and teaching in London at a time when Maths education was going through on of the exciting, inspiring and positive times. I was lucky enough to work alongside inspirational educators like David Fielker and Dylan William. I still remember the shock at seeing the O Level paper that Fielker had set. No time limit, one question “Write about the Mathematics of a chessboard”. This was the time of the Cockcroft Report, investigative course work and freedom to experiment.
Writing tasks, investigations and assessments at the SMILE Centre pushed me to understand the need to engage students in their learning in a variety of ways that were supportive yet challenging, that gave students more control of where they were going, but also asked them deep questions. We mixed problem solving and open ended tasks, individual and group work and assessed writing, description and creativity rather than just the right answers on test. In the inner London comprehensive school I worked at, I could see the best students being let off the leash and the weakest gaining confidence over their fear of Maths.
I left England in 1984, and I think that much of the dawn has been shrouded in mist and regulation. the National Curriculum and the emphasis of content over skills killed the creativity of students and teachers. Fielker’s O Level paper would never be accepted again. On a brighter note, things seem to be livening up and I hope this site can be a contribution to that process.
You can email me here if you like: firstname.lastname@example.org