Values and Mathematics Education: A Hong Kong Reflection
Values in education are the deep affective qualities which education fosters through school teaching. However, it seems evident that many people see mathematics as set of truths and rules from a body of structured pure knowledge, or a unquestioned body of objective but useful knowledge. Therefore, many people consider school mathematics as a value-free or value-neutral subject, which may have no relationship with values education. This view has been challenged since the last two decades, both from philosophical/epistemological analysis (e.g. Bishop 1988a; Bishop 1988b; Ernest 1991; Restivo 1992) and from the practical considerations of teaching and learning (e.g. Bishop et. al. 1999; Taplin 1998; Wilson 1986; Winter 2001). In other words, to a significant number of mathematics educators, mathematics is not a value-free subject and mathematics education cannot be limited to the teaching and learning of value-neutral mathematical knowledge and skills.
This paper will first examine Bishop’s (2001) idea about two main kinds of values in mathematics education: the general educational and the mathematical. Examples from UK, Australia, Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia will be used to illustrate his idea. Recent development and research studies in Hong Kong will then be investigated and compared with the situations in these countries. Finally, the author will reflect on the issue of connecting values, mathematics education and society in Hong Kong. Suggestions for making values teaching explicit in the mathematics classroom will also be proposed and discussed.
Tang Kwok-chun (Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of China)
Department of Education Studies
Hong Kong Baptist University
Tang Kwok-chun is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Education Studies, Hong Kong Baptist University. He was born in Macau and moved to Hong Kong at the age of eight. He was a secondary mathematics teacher in Hong Kong from 1983 to 1993. His Ph.D. study focuses on the stability and change of secondary school mathematics knowledge in Macau. His research interests include mathematics curriculum stability and change, mathematics teaching and learning, history in mathematics education, and sociology of school knowledge.
(Virtual Presentation, English)