2021 Lecture by Prof. Jill Adler

Professor Jill Adler presented the 2021 annual SAERA Nelson Mandela Legacy Lecture, entitled “Thinking-with-Mandela on levering educational change”. The event was held on Zoom online due to the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic, and was hosted by the WITS School of Education.

In her presentation, Prof Jill Adler asked us to reflect on Mandela’s Legacy, with these words:

The SAERA Nelson Mandela Legacy Lecture is an invitation to make Mandela ‘educational as opposed to simply or just inspirational’ and ‘a catalyst for the surfacing of contradiction …. rather than the tranquilising balm for which he is used’. I hope to use this lecture, and the honour it has bestowed, as a catalyst for reflecting on levering change in the teaching and learning of school mathematics. I will use the framing lens of Thinking-with-Mandela to reflect on the lessons and challenges of a ten-year research-linked professional development intervention in lower secondary mathematics. Revisiting educational conditions over the years of the intervention I will draw out key controversies, choices, and both intended and unintended consequences for the laudable goals of levering educational change. This discussion will in turn open-up the broader possibilities and contradictions in the enduring inequities in access to school mathematics. As Madiba said ‘We all know that education, more than anything else, improves our chances of building better lives’. But we all know he also said ‘Rhetoric is not important. Actions are’, and that ‘After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb.’

Professor of Mathematics Education at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) and visiting Professor of Mathematics Education at King’s College London, UK. Jill was president of the International Commission on Mathematical Instruction (ICMI) from 2017-2020 and held the SARChI Mathematics Education Chair at Wits from 2010-2019. She was awarded the 2012 Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) Gold Medal for Science in the Service of Society as well as the 2015 ICMI Hans Freudenthal medal in recognition of a major cumulative program of research. She is also is an A-Rated researcher of the National Research Foundation, South Africa.

View the recording of Prof. Jill Adler’s presentation below: