As was previously announced at meta, there is now an SE site for mathematics education (MESE). My broad questions is this: Should we react to this somehow? (More specific questions are below.)

Does the MESE site change what education related questions are on-topic here? An earlier meta discussion suggests that questions about mathematics education research are generally off-topic, whereas such questions are on-topic at MESE. Is teaching mathematics at university level always on-topic at MO?

There are teaching related tags here at MO (, ). Should we add a note about MESE in the tag wiki excerpts of educational tags? This is not only about keeping MO clean from off-topic questions, but also about helping people find the best place to ask their questions. The exact wording of such a note could be anything from "There is also a separate StackExchange site for mathematics education: ..." to "Questions about mathematics education are no longer on-topic here. Please ask at ... instead".

Our help pages describe what is on-topic here and mention some other sites for other mathematical questions. Math.SE is included in the list (as it should), but MESE is not. Should we add it? If yes, how should it be worded?

I realize that this question is quite long and contains several different questions. If you think it would be better to split this in several pieces, let me know.

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    $\begingroup$ There are many who participate in both forums. I think the usual guidance given to questions that are better suited elsewhere is applicable to questions suited for ME.SE. Tweaking the help pages to include it is good. Migrating historical ME questions from MO is not good. Spreading awareness of ME.SE in a low-key fashion is good. Reacting as if to anticipate a serious problem is not good: I don't think conditions are such that any strong or even mild reaction to ME.SE's presence is required. Just go about as usual, and refer to the other forums as needed. $\endgroup$ – The Masked Avenger Feb 28 '15 at 5:32
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    $\begingroup$ @TheMaskedAvenger, I agree that there is not big alarming issue that we should be reacting to. Migrating old questions would be an overkill. My original thought was that spreading the word is a sufficient reaction, but there are several ways to do that. There are many who participate in both forums and word gets around, but there are always new people looking for a place for their questions, too. $\endgroup$ – Joonas Ilmavirta Feb 28 '15 at 5:52
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    $\begingroup$ This question now shows up on the list of hot meta posts, which looks like excellent advertisement for MESE. $\endgroup$ – Joonas Ilmavirta Feb 28 '15 at 19:56
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    $\begingroup$ @TheMaskedAvenger: Merely for completeness let me add that in any case, migrating questions that are older than 60 days is impossible, even for moderators. And, while there is a procedure of seeding new sites with old questions from other sites, this is either done at the very start or not at all. $\endgroup$ – user9072 Feb 28 '15 at 22:34
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    $\begingroup$ @AsafKaragila, did you know that comments on meta are not meant solely for humorous remarks? :) $\endgroup$ – Joonas Ilmavirta Mar 4 '15 at 16:37
  • $\begingroup$ Joonas, that doesn't sound right. Are you sure about that? :-) $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Mod Mar 4 '15 at 16:43
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    $\begingroup$ @Asaf, I'm almost sure, but I could of course be mistaken. :-) Maybe you should ask this at meta if you are not afraid of losing an excuse for bad jokes. $\endgroup$ – Joonas Ilmavirta Mar 4 '15 at 17:00
  • $\begingroup$ I am okay with plausible deniability. :-P $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Mod Mar 4 '15 at 17:03

I am against making "questions on math education no longer on-topic here". There are some excellent education related questions on this site. We may specify that education questions on MO should be related to graduate level (research) education. Graduate-level education is done by professional mathematicians not by professional teachers, and it is natural to have these questions on this site.

Same applies to history of mathematics questions. There is another SE on History of Math and Sciences. Nevertheless there are history questions which are more suitable for this site, the site for professional mathematicians.

Also, on my opinion some questions can be interesting for both audiences in which case they can be posted on both sites, what is wrong with that?

For example, once I posted the same question in MO and in HSM:

When exactly and why did matrix multiplication become a part of the undergraduate curriculum?

and it is my highest scoring question in both MO and HSM.

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    $\begingroup$ I totally agree. If a question is of considerable interest on several sites, I see no obstruction for posting it on all of them, as long the cross-posts are linked. $\endgroup$ – Joonas Ilmavirta Mar 3 '15 at 4:35
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    $\begingroup$ In general I have a positive opinion towards the idea of reasonable cross-posting. However, I would only add that I think it is almost always better to; a) not post at the exact same time, but with a delay of a couple of days, b) to ask variations of the question on the different sites (as opposed to just copy-paste). Especially, if one does a) the latter question might already be informed by answers to the former. $\endgroup$ – user9072 Mar 4 '15 at 12:00
  • $\begingroup$ Since link to the MO question is mentioned in the post, perhaps it might be useful to add also a link to the HSM question: When exactly (and why) did matrices become a part of the undergraduate curriculum? (HSM was also mentioned in this answer: Is there a consensus on whether history of mathematics questions are acceptable on MO?) $\endgroup$ – Martin Sleziak May 19 '20 at 7:33
  • $\begingroup$ @Martin Sleziak: thanks for your suggestion. I will add the link. $\endgroup$ – Alexandre Eremenko May 19 '20 at 12:39

I would very much like to keep questions about graduate level courses here at MO. There is a lot of knowledge of how to present various topics which isn't available in books and is only known to a few experts in the field, and I don't think those questions would get answered at matheducators. Here are some recent questions of mine of that sort. 1 2 3

  • $\begingroup$ I think you want to say "... about topics in graduate level courses". There are general questions that could apply to many graduate level courses that would have varying levels of being on/off topic in both fora. I agree with you that topic specific questions are better here on MathOverflow, but there are non-topic-specific questions about graduate level courses that are better suited for MathEducators. Gerhard "Pigeonholing Helps Organize My Mind" Paseman, 2015.03.05 $\endgroup$ – Gerhard Paseman Mar 5 '15 at 18:28
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    $\begingroup$ Somewhere between the two I think. I want questions of the form "How should I teach graduate level topic $X$ in the context of a course where we have covered $Y_1$, $Y_2$ and $Y_3$, but not $Z_1$ or $Z_2$?" This is a different sort of question than simply "What are some ways/the best way of thinking about $X$?" $\endgroup$ – David E Speyer Mar 9 '15 at 16:01

The Math Educators (MESE) site is still in beta, so there are a few things we can't do just yet. During the beta phase, SE sites are still defining themselves and narrowing down what is on-topic/off-topic for the site. It's best for other SE sites to avoid interfering with this process. For example, we can't establish a migration path to MESE. (Though moderators can still migrate questions to MESE and users can recommend this through moderator flags.) The best we can do for now is to encourage people to use MESE and help the site grow!

The tag does mention MESE. The tag doesn't, but it does reference the tag. I think this is the right way to go about it. Teaching will never be entirely off-topic on MO. Topic divisions are always fuzzy and some teaching-related questions will remain perfectly on-topic for MO even if they might also be on-topic for MESE. However, once MESE grows out of beta, we will probably not see many questions where and are used as primary tags.

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    $\begingroup$ Would it be premature to mention MESE at our help pages before it goes out of beta? I think the difference of the scopes of the two sites is reasonably well defined even if MESE hasn't fully decided what is on-topic there. $\endgroup$ – Joonas Ilmavirta Feb 28 '15 at 19:49
  • $\begingroup$ You make Stack Exchange sound like a petri dish. $\endgroup$ – PyRulez Mar 3 '15 at 11:32

Since the contents of the help pages have not been discussed in the answers so far, let me propose a text in the spirit of the other answers. Here is a suggestion for another item in the list of things MathOverflow is not (in our help pages):

  • MathOverflow is not for most questions about mathematics education. We recommend asking questions about the process of learning and teaching mathematics at matheducators.stackexchange.com, a site dedicated to this purpose. However, questions about teaching mathematics at graduate or similar level are welcome.

I would place it between "MathOverflow is not for homework help" and "MathOverflow is not a discussion forum". This note about education and MESE is easiest to find if it is included in the list instead of being inserted to some other paragraph.

I think it would be better not to make this mention about MESE and teaching overly specific, but to only give the general idea. The change can be done before MESE goes out of beta, since the general purpose of the site is already clear.

Does this look reasonable?

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    $\begingroup$ Thanks for your initiative. I do not want to get too involved, personally, to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest. But I would prefer the "professional teachers, professional mathematicians" dichotomy would not make it into the documentation. I know you took it from Alexandre Eremenko's answer and I understand what he means. Still I would prefer to avoid implying there that users here in general are not professional teachers and that users on MESE in general are not professional mathematicians. Finally, "the process of learning" is possibly more clear than "learning." $\endgroup$ – user9072 Mar 11 '15 at 1:12
  • $\begingroup$ @quid, thanks! I edited the suggestion. I begin to agree that the dichotomy need not be there, but I do think that something like "teaching by professional mathematicians" is a criterion we should include. $\endgroup$ – Joonas Ilmavirta Mar 11 '15 at 2:04
  • $\begingroup$ I think "teaching by professional mathematicians" is confusing. I think it is rather common that people working at (research) universities teach over the full spectrum of courses offered, that is first year undergraduates (possibly not even in math) up-to research oriented courses for PhD students. The intent of "other mathematical education offered by professional mathematicians" is not quite clear to me. Is it "about teaching graduate-level courses and other teaching of advanced mathematics" or something else? $\endgroup$ – user9072 Mar 11 '15 at 10:05
  • $\begingroup$ @quid, I think advanced mathematics is too vague. A physics major probably has their opinion of what is advanced mathematics but it doesn't match the idea most people here have. I hope "graduate or similar level" conveys the right idea to most people. Also, as teaching mathematics is not only about giving courses (at least for me), I prefer teaching mathematics to teaching courses. But you are right, my expression was not quite clear. I edited again. $\endgroup$ – Joonas Ilmavirta Mar 11 '15 at 15:21
  • $\begingroup$ I agree the advanced was not a good way to phrase things. I think the current formulation is better. $\endgroup$ – user9072 Mar 11 '15 at 15:46

May I suggest this site attempt to collaborate with Math Educators SE to narrow the gap between high school and university math.

A first step in this direction would be to begin a list of the most common weaknesses that Proffessors and teaching assistants observe in incoming freshmen students. This list can then be further discussed at Math Eductators SE.

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    $\begingroup$ That is an interesting question, and in fact it inspired me to ask a question at MESE: matheducators.stackexchange.com/q/7597/2074 The problem is presumably of interest to many MO users, but I think the discussion would be better suited at MESE. I don't see a need for collaboration in this matter besides having users that use both MO and MESE. The problem is about teaching mathematics to freshmen, and I would say that is below the scope of teaching questions at MO. $\endgroup$ – Joonas Ilmavirta Mar 12 '15 at 16:54
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks, and you have inspired me to ask your question on MSE. Unfortunately, it's not being very well received :( $\endgroup$ – user 147593 Mar 12 '15 at 18:14
  • $\begingroup$ Maybe that's because there already was a somewhat similar question at MSE meta: meta.math.stackexchange.com/q/19772/166535 Your meta question has now four votes to close. Your question seems to propose collaboration, whereas this question is more about adapting MO policies to the new situation. $\endgroup$ – Joonas Ilmavirta Mar 12 '15 at 21:09
  • $\begingroup$ The first part of my question simply asks how should MSE's reaction to the existence of MESE be any different than math-overflow's, this would nessesarily include adaptations of existing MSE policies to the new situation. I am asking the policy makers to compare and contrast any similarities and differences between the two sites and why those should be implemented? The second part of my question is merely my point of view on addressing a real-word global problem in the transition from high school to university that we can try to address within this network by a more collaborative approach. $\endgroup$ – user 147593 Mar 13 '15 at 1:13
  • $\begingroup$ I know. I just wanted to try to find reasons why it got so many downvotes and was closed so quickly without any feedback. The response was so hostile that I doubt there is any chance to reopen it. $\endgroup$ – Joonas Ilmavirta Mar 13 '15 at 1:42
  • $\begingroup$ How can the exact same question be treated so differently? $\endgroup$ – user 147593 Mar 13 '15 at 5:05
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    $\begingroup$ The questions were not exactly the same, and there already was a question about MESE at MSE meta. Your question has now two votes to reopen, so it is possible (although not sure) that it would get an answer. Let's see what happens... $\endgroup$ – Joonas Ilmavirta Mar 13 '15 at 5:19
  • $\begingroup$ Do you have any suggestions on how I should make the question more focused? $\endgroup$ – user 147593 Mar 13 '15 at 11:31
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    $\begingroup$ The main thing I would improve is to make it more specific what you mean by "react". My question asks specifically about tags, changes in being on-topic (this was already discussed at MSE), tags and help pages. But let us not discuss this here anymore, as this comment discussion doesn't really belong to this meta. (There are now 4/5 reopen votes.) $\endgroup$ – Joonas Ilmavirta Mar 13 '15 at 16:19

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