By Catherine Probst
George Mason University’s Padmanabhan Seshaiyer, one of the leading mathematics educators in the country, was appointed to the U.S. National Commission for Mathematics Instruction (USNC/MI) by the National Academy of Sciences.
The goal of the USNC/MI is to plan, recommend and encourage projects in areas of international importance in mathematical sciences education. The commission also advises the National Academy of Sciences-National Research Council on all matters pertaining to the International Commission on Mathematical Instruction.
According to Seshaiyer, some of the areas of mathematics education the commission will discuss include curriculum development, research and teaching. The commission focuses on K-12 education, as well as teacher development, and Seshaiyer notes the importance of incorporating inquiry-based learning into the classroom to help engage young students.
“One of the strengths I bring to the commission is my knowledge of the power of inquiry-based learning and its profound effects on children at a young age,” says Seshaiyer. “By being a part of the commission, I hope to be able to convince others of the importance of a hands-on education that promotes learning in a very different, but more effective, way.”
In addition, an important role of the commission is to determine how the USNC/MI contributes and participates in mathematics education on a global level. The commission will analyze the practices and philosophies of teaching in countries throughout the world. Using their combined expertise, the commission will make recommendations to top-ranking education officials in hopes of influencing education policies.
Joining Seshaiyer, professor of mathematical sciences in George Mason’s College of Science, on the committee are faculty and mathematics educators from universities across the country, as well as several selected mathematicians.
The commission meets twice a year, and each member will serve for at least four years. The first meeting took place in April 2013 in Denver, and the next one will be in December at the National Academies in Washington, D.C.
“I am honored to be joining this select group of individuals as we work together to address some of the most important education issues facing our country,” says Seshaiyer. “The work that we do has the potential to influence existing policies or create new policies that will impact the nation’s curriculum.”