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Sustainability in statistics education

Statistics and hence statistics education are of vital importance to the whole of society and to all disciplines. Statistics education needs to cater to the full spectrum of statistical needs in society, different disciplines, industry and government, and to the diversity of student capabilities, developmental levels and aspirations, yet simultaneously emphasizing and strengthening the commonalities in statistical concepts, problem-solving approaches and thinking across all usages and purposes of Statistics.

Because Statistics is important across so many fields of human endeavour, it is constantly developing within itself as a discipline or in applications rich in diversity. Statistics is about problem-solving in contexts involving uncertainty and variation. It requires judgement, understanding and quantitative acumen, with interpretations dependent on assumptions and context, but always striving for objectivity, logic and evidence-based analysis, avoiding susceptibility to context “intuitions”. It is therefore not surprising, that, although gathering and interpreting data pervade everyday living, disciplines, workplaces and research, statistical thinking and practice are remarkably challenging to learn and teach.

Consequently, statistics education requires great and ongoing commitment, and is vulnerable to backsliding, reductionism and a multiplicity of miscellaneous pressures both intentional and inadvertent. The word sustain is particularly appropriate in this ongoing work, as it has a number of relevant meanings. It can mean maintain, carry on, keep going, uphold; it can mean nourish, support, feed; and it can mean encounter, experience, undergo, endure. All of these meanings are apt in the many contexts of statistics education.

Thus the theme for ICOTS9 has many possible elucidations and manifestations of relevance across the whole of Statistics Education and its importance to the whole of Statistics and its usage, development and practice across all of society. Just some possible applications of the theme are:

  • sustaining current strengths in statistics education practice across all school and tertiary levels;
  • sustaining and extending the involvement of the whole statistical community in statistics education;
  • sustaining and extending the links and interaction between statistics educators and statisticians;
  • sustaining international and national collaboration and collegiality within statistics education;
  • sustaining innovation and reform in statistics education across educational levels and disciplines;
  • sustaining education and development of staff who teach statistics and supporting the teaching of statistics in the variety of educational levels and contexts;
  • sustaining the maintenance, usefulness, accessibility and development of statistical teaching resources;
  • sustaining student ownership of their learning in statistics courses and activities;
  • sustaining student engagement in statistics courses across the diversity of student capabilities and motivations;
  • sustaining development of standards in research and scholarship in statistics education;
  • sustaining development of individual students and staff in statistics across the ranges of backgrounds, abilities and contexts;
  • sustaining progress in statistical literacy: for children; citizens; journalists; politicians;
  • sustaining government and community involvement and support;
  • sustaining communication of the value of the discipline;
  • sustaining overall capacity building;
  • teaching sustainability itself, working within uncertainties relevant to applications.

Hence ICOTS9 has the potential to bring together effort, examples, reflections, ideas, research and reviews from across the world in a collective experience that will contribute to the meaningful upholding and nourishing of statistics education and its impact in every endeavour where Statistics plays a role.