Cultivating Soulful Mathematicians

It has been a while since I have posted here (and it seems like I start more and more posts with that caveat). In the past year I have been blessed with my dream job of overseeing the K-12 mathematics program at a Christian school. I have spent a lot of time on vertical alignment, evaluating our curriculum and proposing changes, teacher training, and running a social media public relations campaign to increase our parent community’s understanding of what we do in our math program. The work has been good and rewarding, but also time consuming.

Oh, and in my “spare time” I have been working with some amazing colleagues and brothers in Christ to launch a math conference. That is what I would like to share with you today.

The name of the conference is “Cultivating Soulful Mathematicians” and information along with registration details can be found here. Francis Su will be the keynote speaker and every conference participant will receive a copy of his forthcoming book Mathematics for Human Flourishing.

Where does the name of the conference come from?

Well, my colleagues and I had kicked around a few ideas including “math for human flourishing,” “cultivating mathematical affections” (if you’ve read anything on this site then you can guess who suggested this theme), and “math class as soul craft” (an homage to the book Shop Class as Soul Craft). These themes were close to what we were aiming for but none were perfect fits. Then I began reading the book Where Wisdom may be Found: the Eternal Purpose of Christian Higher Education. I have included this book on the “Resource” page and hope to post a review of it at some point (in my “spare time”).

I began reading this book because one chapter is entitled “The Joy of Mathematics.” While I thoroughly enjoyed that chapter it was actually another chapter that motivated this conference theme: “Becoming a Soulful Wordsmith.” Here is the apt excerpt:

Liberal arts learning has always emphasized the importance of discovering who we truly are, over and above acquiring practical skills that can be applied in a work context. Students who are dedicated to liberal arts learning, from a Christian perspective, will develop an enduring interest in their souls, especially as they are enlivened by the living Word Jesus. To be soulful, biblically speaking, is to be aware of, and participate in, the transforming work of redemption by the Lord who promises to bring life, and bring it “more abundantly” (John 10:10). This is the Christian version of seeking “the good life,” which is the prime directive of secular liberal arts.

This struck a chord with me as it seems to touch on all of the previous themes we had thrown out there but not been satisfied with.

  • “cultivating mathematical affections” – discovering who we truly are, over and above acquiring practical skills that can be applied in a work context
  • “math class as soul craft” – developing an enduring interest in their souls
  • “math for human flourishing” – the Christian version of seeking “the good life,” which is the prime directive of secular liberal arts

What do we hope to achieve at this conference?

From the conference description: Teaching and learning mathematics orients ourselves and our students in a posture of wonder and gratitude, with a desire to worship God and serve one another in community. Mathematics is the language through which we describe the natural world and give expression to our exploration of even the most abstract relationships between shapes and numbers. This is realized as teachers carefully attend to students through instructional practices and deliberate classroom liturgies that draw students into enduring understandings. In our time together, participants will assume the role of students as they exercise their mathematical imagination, experience collaborative problem solving that is both accessible and challenging, and communicate meaningful connections between multiple representations of ideas. Teachers will be led through the process of backward design, development of provocative anchor tasks, and composition of assessments that reflect the chief aim of cultivating mathematical affections.

I hope you’ll consider attending or at least spreading the word to others.

ACMS Preliminary Call for Papers

Visit ACMSonline.org for details

Conference of the Association of Christians in the Mathematical Sciences

Indiana Wesleyan University, May 29-June 1, 2019

 The 22nd Biennial ACMS conference will be held at Indiana Wesleyan University in Marion, Indiana May 29-June 1, 2019. In the coming months, conference details will be posted at the acmsonline.org website.

Call for Papers: At this time we are accepting proposals for talks. Proposals must include the presenter’s name, presentation title, and an abstract of at most 250 words. Please provide your abstract in Word or TeX/LaTeX. Most presentation timeslots will be 15 minutes plus a 5 minute transition time between speakers. Some timeslots of 25 minutes with a 5 minute transition will be available; please indicate if you would like to be considered for one of these longer presentations. Applications will be processed on a rolling basis in order to help those applying for funding at their institution; we will attempt to notify you within 2 weeks of submission whether your proposal has been selected for the conference (except for a longer pause during July 2018).

We are looking for presentations in the following general categories. Research talks should be targeted to an audience primarily of non-specialists.

  • Computer Science / Computer Science Education
  • Mathematics / Mathematics Education
  • Statistics / Statistics Education
  • Interaction of Faith and Discipline

There will be dedicated tracks in Computer Science as well as in Statistics/Data Science.

Proposals should be sent to melvin.royer(at)indwes.edu by February 15, 2019 with ACMS proposal in the subject line. Proposals received after February 15 will be considered if space remains.

Refereed Proceedings: Please note that the 2019 ACMS Proceedings will be refereed. To allow authors time to incorporate audience feedback into their paper, all submissions to the Proceedings will be due September 15, 2019. Submissions for the Proceedings should be in TeX or LaTeX; more details will be provided at a later date.

Topic Discussions: We are also accepting topics suggestions and volunteer leaders for several group discussions on subjects of common interest. These can also be sent to melvin.royer(at)indwes.edu.

Costs: We are in the process of finalizing the cost of the conference but we estimate the costs to be approximately $140 for faculty and $50 for students for those registering before February 28, 2019. Room and Board (Wednesday dinner – Saturday breakfast) estimates are:

  • Meals, single or shared room with linens and pillow
    • Faculty: $175 per person
    • Students: $90 per person
  • Tuesday night room: $25 per person

Preconference Workshop: There will be two preconference workshops during the day of Wednesday, May 29. The estimated cost is $40 for faculty and $20 for students which includes Wednesday breakfast and lunch. The two workshops are

  • Professional development for graduates students and early career faculty
  • Programming and using R

We hope to start taking online conference registrations in August 2018. If you need to register before that time for funding purposes, please contact Jeremy Case jrcase(at)taylor.edu.

NCTM Research Conference 2018

I was honored to present my dissertation results at the 2018 NCTM Research Conference in Washington D.C. The paper I submitted was entitled “Cultivating Mathematical Affections through Engagement in Service-Learning.”

You can view the presentation below:

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