February 01, 2012 12:28
Figure skating champion Kim Yu-na is pictured in a math textbook for U.S. high school students. She appears in the part introducing trigonometry.
In the U.S., math textbooks commonly feature photos of sports stars' performances to explain geometry.
The textbook published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt features Kim twice, presenting the following problems: calculate the angle created by a figure skater's jump; and calculate the angle according to the number of rotations when a figure skater performs an axel jump. It does not identify her.
The U.S. publisher has not obtained a prior permit from Kim, but her management agency said since the purpose is not commercial but educational, they have no plan to take legal action.
Korean high school textbooks deal with the same concepts, but rarely try to relate them to subjects that may be familiar to students. Experts say Korean textbooks follow the Japanese educational model, which focuses heavily on rote learning.
U.S. math textbooks teach students to suggest they can apply what they learn in their daily lives, according to Lee Chung-kuk, head of CMS Education. "Korean textbooks are full of difficult content and fail to suggest how mathematics affects our daily lives. So students often don't understand why they have to learn the subject," he said.
The Education Ministry here recently announced plans to upgrade math education, including adding storytelling features to textbooks, but students will not benefit until 2017.
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