Proposal: Mathematics Learning, Studying, and Education

This isn't https://math.stackexchange.com/...?

There is already an education tag there; why not just use it?

I understand the "our education tag deserves special attention because we like it" bandwagon, but unless math.sx is having management issues and needs to be split, there is no real justification for a hyper-specialized math education sub-site. The only thing it does is divide the attention of users between two sites.

I don't expect this to be a popular question but if you cannot give a compelling argument for splitting Math.SX (where educational topics are already appropriate) off into a hyper-specialized Math LSE subsite, please reconsider a downvote without a contribution.

Edit: After reading some of the answers below, while I still believe Math SLE is misguided and useless, I support the inclusion of its concepts in the Education.SX proposal over the use of education on Math.SX.


5 Answers 5


Mathematics Education is partly mathematics and partly education.

It seems that you consider Math Ed to be a subset of Mathematics, but I consider Math Ed to be a subset of Education.

If there was an Education Stack Exchange (containing a "mathematics" tag), I would understand someone who was against the creation of a Math Ed site. But, unfortunately, there currently is no Education Stack Exchange (although there is a proposal for one). So that is why I am for a Math Ed Stack Exchange---I do not believe that Math Ed is a subset of Mathematics.

  • 1
    If you view it as a subset of education, then it would seem to make more sense to propose a general Education site, no? That would serve others besides math educators, and would also allow educators to share subject-independent knowledge.
    – Jason C
    Feb 21, 2014 at 10:06
  • 2
    @JasonC, that is correct. That is why I am a follower of the proposed Education Stack Exchange site.
    – JRN
    Feb 21, 2014 at 10:07
  • That is something I can stand behind too. Also, a general Education.SX further negates the validity of Math LSE.
    – Jason C
    Feb 21, 2014 at 10:08
  • 5
    @JasonC If you want to lump the teaching and learning of all subjects together in one Education site then why not lump the Q&A of the content of all subjects into one site? You obviously have a very narrow view of the process of education. Feb 21, 2014 at 22:15
  • @GeoffPointer See my response to your comment on quid's answer (it would be better to post comments on the question instead of duplicating them on multiple answers; I see them all when you tag me).
    – Jason C
    Feb 21, 2014 at 22:37

A main reason this extra site seems desirable is that various questions in mathematics education are less clear cut than most mathematical question.

The sites math.SE and MO are thus not an optimal fit for many of them. For this site we will need to be less strict regarding 'subjective' questions than would be desirable for math.SE and MO. Put differently this site will need to allow a more discursive style than the other two sites.

Thus, it is not mainly about giving visibility to some tag. But the problem is that a site's 'culture' for effectively dealing with mathematics education questions, at least certain of them, needs to be different from the 'culture' that is effective for most other questions on these sites.

To have different standards for certain tags within one site seems not desirable either, as it would (does) cause a lot of friction. Thus there is need for a separate site.


One reason for having two sites (or three, if you count MO) is that they serve different, but overlapping communitites. Many people on MSE are research-oriented mathematicians, and the lower the level of question, the more people pounce on it.

Since this proposal began, many high-school teachers, adjuncts and other teaching-focused mathematicians have expressed delight in having a place of their own. Many people are enthusiastic about HOW to teach math much more thn what to teach.

Look at disputes out there about Investigations math or common core. Look at "Moore method" vs. Traditional classrooms. Look at the issue of the usefulness of highschool geometry. People are passionate about this.

The community is already divided; this site gives a voice to tbe other half. One of the largest groups of mathematicians in America is the MAA, which focuses on teaching. The other is the AMS, which focuses on research.

The final answer, though, is that this site will drive revenue by bringing in a fresh crop of visitors who care about topics not on other sites.

As for a general Education proposal, it may be too broad.

Some pertinent links: https://math.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/10530/is-research-in-mathematics-education-on-topic-here



  • "As for a general Education proposal, it may be too broad." Would you say that none, some, most, or all of what is involved in math education overlaps general education fundamentals and concepts? Would you find more or less value being able to discuss issues with non-math educators? How much of what you personally have to contribute is beneficial in non-math contexts?
    – Jason C
    Feb 21, 2014 at 16:53
  • @JasonC How much of applied maths and physics content overlaps? Your argument on this is weak. When I did my post graduate course in secondary education there were a wide variety of specialist subjects for the different disciplines. We weren't all just lumped together in one subject. Feb 21, 2014 at 22:23
  • @GeoffPointer Again, see my comment on quid's answer. For the purpose of organization; let's keep it there or move it to general question comments. If you have a large comment to make you could also post it as an answer.
    – Jason C
    Feb 21, 2014 at 22:38
  • Having suffered the seminars of general purpose educators, I can say with some passion that I would absolutely not enjoy being lumped into the larger more vacuous set of general education. Mar 2, 2014 at 0:02

Mathematics education is an academic field in its own right, distinct from mathematics though obviously related to it, in much the same way that computer science was 20 years ago. When I was an undergraduate in the mid 1990's, my university did not technically have a computer science major, only a computer science specialization within mathematics, and many computer scientists were technically part of mathematics departments.

Something similar is happening with the field of mathematics education now: a large number of researchers self-identify as specializing in mathematics education. Some of them work in mathematics departments, but an increasing number go to their own departments and programs: e.g. at UGA there is a department of mathematics and science education, within which there is a program in mathematics education (in fact one of the top ranked ones in the United States).

A site for mathematics education thus includes an entire academic discipline, but also a much broader audience of K-12 mathematics teachers: this is quite a large group. This group also belongs to the much larger group of all educators...just as people in various academic disciplines all belong to academia and intellectual discourse. Such commonalities are certainly nontrivial, resulting e.g. in the fora on the Chronicle of Higher Education. But for a focused Q&A site, it seems much more uesful to focus on the community of all mathematics educators. This is indeed a natural community which has already self-organized in various "horizontal" ways (e.g. NCTM) and desires to integrate itself more vertically.

In terms of both clientele, content and goals this is overlapping but highly distinct from both MO and math.SE. I think that anyone who regularly participated on either or both of these sites would find this easy to understand and appreciate. From far away, sure, it sounds like "math math math"...but by the way that's how a lot of the various computer-focused sites sound to me. At some point perhaps I will learn more. Until then, live and let live...


I never teached mathematics, but I am steadily talking about mathematics, and I regret I did not attend the course "Matematiche elementari da un punto di vista superiore" (the only course about education in my Italian university), which I scorned at the time.

Keep in mind that "education" does not mean "solve problems"...

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