It is with sadness that The Mathematical Association has learnt of the death of Malcolm Swan, one of the most respected and influential mathematics educationalists of recent times.
Over a period of 40 years, Nottingham University’s Shell Centre and its successor body, the Centre for Research into Mathematical Education (CRME), have given birth to significant developments in mathematics pedagogy. Malcolm joined the staff there in 1979 to work under Hugh Burkhardt, and apart from a couple of years at the University of Reading, he stayed for the duration of his career. He fashioned the wonderful classroom materials in The Language of Functions and Graphs and Problems with Patterns and Numbers (thankfully still available free online) and I remember to this day how frequently I turned and returned to them in my own career. More recently, Malcolm’s focus was on the design of situations that encourage concept development, problem solving and reflection, and on formative assessment, and to each of these areas he brought both insight and wisdom. At the most recent British Congress on Mathematics Education on Malcolm’s ‘home turf’ (BCME8, in 2014), it was wholly appropriate that he should give the closing address.
The first that many will have known of his illness was at ICME-13 in Hamburg last summer when the names Malcolm Swan and Hugh Burkhardt were announced from the stage as the recipients of the Emma Castelnuovo Award in ‘recognition of their more than 35 years of development and implementation of innovative, influential work in the practice of mathematics education, including the development of curriculum and assessment materials, instructional design concepts, teacher preparation programmes, and educational system changes.’ Hugh accepted the award in person and explained that Malcolm was unable to attend.
Malcolm was a long-standing member of The Mathematical Association. His passing represents a considerable loss not only to his family, friends and colleagues, but to the wider community of mathematics teachers and educationalists.
Chris Pritchard, MA Secretary