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Professional Development of Mathematics Teachers: An Asian Perspective

Berinderjeet Kaur, Oh Nam Kwon, and Yew Hoong Leong, editors
Publication Date: 
Number of Pages: 
Mathematics Education - An Asian Perspective
[Reviewed by
Woong Lim
, on

Every year we hear about Asian countries ranking top in the International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO). Similarly, East Asian countries dominate the math and science portion of the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA). Most mathematics teachers in the U.S. are also quite familiar with Japanese Lesson Study or the Singaporean math curriculum, and there have been efforts to use the math pedagogy of certain East Asian countries as a model for improving student learning in the U.S.

Despite high interest in the way Asian schools teach mathematics, one may wonder how deeply we understand the professional practice of mathematics teacher development in Asian countries. Professional Development of Mathematics Teachers: An Asian Perspective, edited by Berinderjeet Kaur, Oh Nam Kwon, and Yew Hoong Leong offers a rich source of information on mathematics teacher development in Asia, including training and support for practicing teachers. This book is very useful at a time of unprecedented need not only to recruit the best talents to teach mathematics in our public schools, but also to train and support the teachers in the classroom. This book definitely adds the Asian perspective to the literature regarding this important question: how do we define the quality of mathematics teachers and how do we provide appropriate support for teacher development?

The book has 16 chapters, and its contributing authors discuss teacher development and support in China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippines, Singapore, and Taiwan. The first chapter provides an overview of the book and goes into detail about the patterns of mathematics teacher development in Asian countries characterized as diverse, interactive, converging, and pragmatic. The other 15 chapters are presented in two parts — the first part focuses on articulating the policies, structures, frameworks, and contexts of the professional development of mathematics teachers in eight Asian countries, and the second part focuses on describing innovative approaches to the professional development of mathematics teachers in six Asian countries.

The book is highly academic and therefore full of theories, data, analysis, and insight. It also has lots of informative and descriptive tables and figures. The book does not come across as some sort of showcase of exemplary Asian practices intended for consumption by Western scholars. Rather the book is put together primarily for researchers, policy makers, and mathematics teacher educators as a tool for policy and academic discourse. This tool is not intended only to bridge the East-West divide but also to have an impact within the Asian community of mathematics teacher education.

The three editors deserve credit for creating the first kind of book that documents and amplifies the voices of Asian mathematics teacher educators. I hope the next edition can invite mathematics teacher educators in other Asian countries including Hong Kong, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Vietnam, so that they could contribute to broadening the discourse surrounding teacher development. A word of caution though: this book focuses on in-service teachers rather than pre-service mathematics teacher education; the index was absent in my copy, but perhaps buying an e-book with a search tool may solve the problem.

Woong Lim ( is an Assistant Professor of Mathematics Education at University of New Mexico. His research interests include mathematics teacher education; and discourse, language, and equity in the mathematics classroom.

See the table of contents in the publisher's webpage.