How Chinese Learn Mathematics is a comprehensive look at nearly all aspects of mathematical development in grades K-12 in Chinese educational systems.
The volume addresses all countries in which a significant amount of the population is Chinese. Issues discussed include, among others, comparisons between western and Chinese results in international tests, classroom techniques in the Chinese school system, comparisons between Chinese and western home environments for mathematical learning, and the historic connection to modern mathematics beliefs in Chinese educational systems. In depth perspectives regarding the use of textbooks, the recent movement to reform Chinese mathematics learning, and the preparation/beliefs of K-12 mathematics instructors in Chinese educational systems is presented.
This volume does a great deal to enlighten novices with regard to myths about mathematics learning in the Chinese system. For example, the myth that rote learning is the primary style used by Chinese students is addressed. The text does not deny that this is the type of learning most emphasized in the classroom. Instead, it elaborates on the specific details of the Chinese learning experience to show that "rote learning" is a loosely defined concept and that when scrutinized, much more than simple memorization and repetition exists in the Chinese mathematics learning structure.
The volume is well researched and referenced and the authors are generous in their criticism of what they believe to be weaknesses in Chinese mathematics learning systems.
This book has excited my interest in this topic. I strongly recommend it to anyone who is thinking of a career teaching K-12 mathematics, anyone who plans to prepare future teachers in mathematics, and anyone interested in mathematics curriculum development. I would, however, like to see more careful copyediting for English syntax in a few of the chapters.
Stephen Lancaster is a graduate student in Mathematics Education at the University of Oklahoma.