Marie Milis


During my high school years math was not my favorite subject. I was good at it, brilliantly even, by dint of work! A true school of endurance and will. My stradivarius  was literature.

When choosing my higher education, only the "most difficult and therefore the most rewarding" way was opened to me by the values ​​of my education and the words of my father. So I embarked on it energetically and fiercely, until I tasted, even savored, the beauty of those almost unobtainable summits.

During my university studies, I really liked so-called "pure" mathematics (algebra, topology, category theory, ...).

I would have gone down that path if I hadn't had the powerful intuition that my vocation was in teaching.

In 1976, I graduated from the University of Louvain (Belgium) to write the first Bachelor's thesis in mathematics with a teaching orientation. This was the occasion of the creation of the GEM (Mathematical Teaching Group). No more systematic devaluation of pedagogy in the mathematics department. We opened a new field of research necessarily linked to the field, and therefore to the students. These could no longer be postulated as available to the teacher's word but alive, having their own ways of thinking, thinking and understanding. I used art to introduce them to geometry, presenting students with learning situations in which I could observe them taking initiatives. In this way, I learned from my students how mathematical thought is constructed while I gave them a taste for the development of  thought processes and therefore for the construction of their mathematical knowledge.

As soon as I graduated in mathematics, I went to the United States as a Fullbright student to achieve a master's degree, always in mathematics with two accents: that of paving and networks ("pure maths" very much related to art) and that of pedagogy. My master's degree in mathematics from the University of Washington has this tailor-made title: Master of Arts in Mathematics with Special Emphasis in Math Education.

Now I was bilingual, a researcher and creative, and I returned to Belgium, deeply changed in regards to my personal identity: whatever my place of professional insertion would be, all my life I would be a researcher. I taught the aggregation course at  university before teaching in a so-called "positive discrimination" school where young people with a difficult educational past made of  failures and often exclusions, were gathered. In order for these young people to abandon their beliefs of being incapable and void, I invented the tools of a pedagogy "all are capable if all come together". Mathematics has become an opportunity for victory and eradication of their programmed failure. By discovering themselves capable, even in math, they re-opened the door to their future which they believed hermetically barred.

To show the dignity with which these young people left the ruts of violence to fly  towards their future accomplishment, and to formulate the tools of this pioneering pedagogy, I took again the way of  university notably the faculty of psychology pedagogy and anthropology for a DEA in Paris and Leuven. First a mathematician,  I became an anthropologist of mathematics: I analyze the paths of meaning in the development of mathematics for individuals and populations experiencing difficulties. As I know from experience the pangs of incomprehension, the temptation to give up and the need to persevere, I place myself on the learner's ground. We go from question to question until everyone discovers the wonder that there is always a way, an exit, a luminous understanding.


Researcher in anthropology of mathematics, I am always interested in the paths of meaning in mathematics, so I give myself several laboratories of observation and experimentation: individual courses, coaching teachers, teacher training (ex "To build by the math "," The meaning of errors in math, "The error is the signature of the student" or "Make the student author of his training", ...) and various meetings with the most varied audiences ex "How to channel youth violence through materials?" ...

Founder, with Isabelle Stengers - philosopher of science-, of the interdisciplinary association Adomath which studies the transmission of maths at school and elsewhere. Today, I accompany students, teachers and parents in research. I join my breeding ground by becoming a math therapist and math!

Comme je sais d'expérience les affres de l'incompréhension, la tentation d'abandonner et  l'exigence de s'acharner, je me place sur le terrain de l'apprenant. Nous cheminons de questions en questions jusqu'à ce que chacun découvre l'émerveillement qu'il y ait toujours un chemin, une issue, une compréhension lumineuse.


Chercheur en anthropologie des mathématiques, je m’intéresse toujours aux trajets du sens en mathématique, aussi je me donne plusieurs laboratoires d’observation et d’expérimentation : des cours individuels, du coaching de professeurs, des formations enseignantes (ex "Se construire par les math", "Le sens des erreurs en math, "L'erreur est la signature de l'élève" ou "Rendre l'élève auteur de sa formation",...) et des rencontres diverses avec les publics les plus variés ex « Comment canaliser la violence des jeunes par les matières ? »…

Fondatrice, avec Isabelle Stengers - philosophe des sciences- , de l’association interdisciplinaire Adomath qui étudie la transmission des math à l’école et ailleurs. Aujourd'hui, j'accompagne élèves, professeurs et parents en recherche. Je rejoins mon terreau de jeunesse en devenant thérapeute des math et par les math !

Marie Milis Mathématicienne