In July 2012, the 12th International Congress on Mathematical Education (ICME12) was held in Seoul, (South) Korea. As the largest international conference in mathematical education, ICME is the biggest gathering of mathematics educators, mathematics education researchers, mathematicians, and related organizations around the world. Thus, ICME12 seemed to provide an appropriate opportunity to revisit the history of mathematics education in Korea.
The history of mathematics education in Korea is not so long—if measured since the Korean War, it is just a half century long. It can be viewed through the lens of the histories of the Korean Society of Mathematical Education, founded in 1962, and the Korea Society of Educational Studies in Mathematics, established in 1991. The Korean Society of Mathematical Education, which has strived since its establishment to increase international interaction between Korean and nonKorean math educators, has helped established a Korea–Japan Joint Seminar on Mathematical Education, thereby fostering internationalization of mathematical education, and currently organizes an international conference in mathematical education for the gifted every year. The Korea Society of Educational Studies in Mathematics emerged out of the Korean Association of Research in Mathematical Education. As the modernization of mathematical education, which began in England and the United States in the 1950s, spread to Korea, some mathematics educators established the Korean Association of Research in Mathematical Education in 1965, to apply modern methods in their own practice. The Korea Society of Educational Studies in Mathematics, established by a mathematical education seminar group, inherits this tradition. It began to hold intensive seminars to deepen academic work in math education in Korea. Other organizations contributing to mathematical education in Korea include the Society of School Mathematics, which has conducted research and identified desirable directions for mathematical education by combining the lessons of educational theory and teaching since 1992, a research society of mathematics teachers called the Korean Society of Teachers of Mathematics, which was formed in 1994 for the purpose of the development of mathematical education and the popularization of mathematics, and the Korean School Mathematics Society, established in 1998, which has the goal of improving mathematical education by bringing mathematical educators, mathematicians, and teachers together to strive for active research and its application.
Korea hosted the International Congress of Mathematicians (ICM) also called the “Olympics of math,” in August 2014. Organized by the International Mathematical Union (IMU), the congress is an opportunity for awards to be presented for important mathematical accomplishments achieved over the last four years. It is a festival of mathematicians around the world, during which various discussions and lectures on mathematics are held in connection with it. In particular, the attention of the world will be focused on who will be awarded the Fields Medal (the International Medal for Outstanding Discoveries in Mathematics), the greatest honor in the field of mathematics, and this attention will provide another opportunity to publicize the achievements of mathematics education in Korea.
Through the various abovementioned contests, the mathematics education field in Korea is making efforts to adopt international trends in mathematics education and to incorporate them into school curricula and mathematics teaching and learning methods. Currently, new studies are being conducted in the mathematics education field in Korea to set trends in mathematics education internationally. Recent examples of such studies are the Convergent Talent Education study, studies on storytelling textbooks and teaching and learning methods, on subjectcentered textbooks and teaching and learning method models, on creativitycentered education, on curricula focused on core competencies, on selfdirected learning, on nationallevel curricula appropriate for the society of the future, on multicultural mathematics education, on smart learning, on backward teaching and learning methods, etc.
Furthermore, to establish national measures for and to overcome the problem of Korean students’ tendency to score low in affective domains in international achievement tests such as PISA or TIMSS despite their high achievements in cognitive domains, various studies such as those on mathematics learning clinics and on affective domain improvement are being conducted.
