Plenary Speaker Profile (2002-3)
Liping Ma
Senior Scholar
The Carnegie Foundation for Advancement of Teaching
A solid school mathematics: What it means, why we don't have one, and how we might get one

With Cathy Kessel

It is common in the United States to view mathematics, particularly elementary mathematics, as a collection of rules, "shopkeeper arithmetic," or "basic skills." In contrast, a solid school mathematics (Knowing and Teaching Elementary Mathematics, Liping Ma, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1999, pp. 146, 149) has breadth and depth and provides a foundation for future learning of mathematics. In this talk we discuss what such a school mathematics might look like, what factors have militated against its development in the United States, and how we might foster the development of a solid school mathematics.

Liping Ma is a senior scholar at the Carnegie Foundation for Advancement of Teaching. Her teaching career started when, as a teenager in rural China, she was asked to teach elementary school. During her seven years as an elementary teacher she taught all five grades of elementary school. Later she became the principal of the school.

She received a Masters degree in education from East China Normal University and became an assistant research professor at Shanghai Research Institution for Higher Education. Her continued interest in education led her to graduate study at Michigan State University where she worked as a graduate assistant on the study that inspired her dissertation. She received her Ph.D. in Curriculum and Teacher Education from Stanford University.

As a McDonnell post-doctoral fellow at the University of California at Berkeley she revised her Ph.D. dissertation into the book Knowing and Teaching Elementary Mathematics.