Assoc Prof C Breen
Emeritus Associate Professor
Telephone: (021) 715 3559
Interests: Chris is an Emeritus Associate Professor of the School of Education at the University of Cape Town (UCT) and a visiting faculty member at the UCT Graduate School of Business. In July 2007, Chris ended his three-year term of office as President of the largest research group in the field of mathematics education, the International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education (PME). As President he was responsible for the successful running of the past three annual conferences, which were held in Melbourne (2005), Prague (2006) and Seoul (2007). He has lectured as a visiting professor at the universities of Lisbon, Auckland and Monash and given plenary conference papers in Australia, Portugal, Korea, Greece, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Canada in recent years.
His current research interests centre on the implications that the exploration of a Complexity Science paradigm have for research and for teaching. In particular he is concerned about the challenge to be sufficiently mindful of one’s decisions in the moment and he has been strongly influenced by the ideas of Francisco Varela and Humberto Maturana (enactivism) and John Mason (The Discipline of Noticing). A large collection of recent and older papers can be found on his web site www.chrisbreen.net.
Second Chance Maths
For the past ten years I have been developing a 10 hour programme for adults in which participants have tackled issues of fear of mathematics through a variety of activities in courses run at UCT’s Summer School and through UCT’s Graduate School of Business. These courses have resulted in the publication of a book called Second Chance Maths: You can do it! Further details about these courses and the book can be found at www.secondchancemaths.com.
Articles on the topic of Fear of Maths are:
Coping with fear of mathematics in a group of preservice primary school teachers. Pythagoras, 54, April, 2001, pp. 42-50
Concerning Mr Smith and his (very brief?) reign of terror. Pythagoras, 25, 31-37.
A Cautionary Tale about Rabbits, Moles and Choices. Pythagoras, 23, 20-22.
Much of my recent interest has been centred on ideas emerging from Complexity Science and Ecological writing and has been influenced by the work of Humberto Maturana, Francisco Varela and Brent Davis. Together with some colleagues in the School of Education, I initiated a Masters stream dedicated to Teaching in 2000 and have offered a module called Re-searching Teaching as one of the core modules in this stream for several years. This teaching has inspired some of the articles on this page as well as a course on Complexity and Diversity which I offer on occasional courses at the Graduate School of Business. I have tried to capture some of these ideas on www.chrisbreen.net.
- Navigating a Complex Supervisory Path through the Complicated Waters of Academia. Paper presented at the 3rd Complexity Science and Educational Research conference in Louisiana, November 2005.
- Marrow-bone Thoughts and Lasting Songs? Making sense of educational change and transformation. Thinking Classroom, 6, 1, 14-20, 2005.
- Promising Practices in Teaching and Learning., Keynote address at the 13th Annual Conference of the Southern African Association for Research in Mathematics, Science and Technology Education, January 2005, Safari Conference Centre, Windhoek, Namibia.
- Researching Teaching: Telling the hole'd truth and nothing but my truth, in A. Rogerson (ed.) Proceedings of the 3rd Mathematics Education into the 21st Century Project conference. Palm Cove, Cairns, Australia, August 19-24, 2001.
- Re-Searching Teaching: Changing Paradigms To Improve Practice, in K. Clements, H. Tairab, W. Yoong (Eds.) (2000) Science, mathematics and Technical Education in the 20 th and 21 st Centuries. Universiti Brunei Darussalam: Brunei.
Re-Searching Teaching: Moving from Gut Feeling to Disciplined Conversation, paper accepted in October 2001 for publication in South African Journal for Higher Education in 2002.
Student complexity theses
I have been fortunate enough to have been challenged by many adventurous students who have chosen to continue with some of the ideas raised in the Re-searching Teaching module. Two of these theses can be found below (and additional student writing at www.chrisbreen.net .)
- Re-cognising Teaching and Learning in an Ad Mathematics Programme, Neil Eddy
These documents are in PDF format, and can be read using Adobe Reader.