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culture shmulture?

  1. #1
    okezie is offline Registered User
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    culture shmulture?

    When does "its our culture" become, "its just my excuse"? I told a colleague recently that I am tired of being politically correct and culturally sensitive. A child's right to quality education crosses a boundary of culture no?...thoughts?

  2. #2
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    carang is offline Registered User
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    i think before anyone can answer that or offer their opinions, more information is needed... what cultures are involved? what was the argument? who said what?

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    HappyV is offline Registered User
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    Education, like business, is culturally specific.....up to a point.

    Aspects of sending a child to school, such as safety, duty of care etc should be non-negotiable. But, as Carang has pointed out, it is difficult to contribute without a bit more information.
    Last edited by HappyV; 11-23-2011 at 05:27 AM.

  4. #4
    thanka2 is offline Registered User
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    Okezie,

    I think that one of the most eye-opening studies I ever read was about the perception of what learning is in Confuscian-heritage cultures. What I've read is that the concept of what learning is in Confucian-heritage cultures is very product-focused while in Western cultures which inherited the concepts of what learning is from the ancient Greeks, learning is much more process-focused. In a product-focused system the aim is a perfect product. It is assumed that there is a master (shifu) teacher who has it all figured out and the best a student can hope for is to completely emulate his or her master. So, for example, if the master is a master of painting the students practice over and over the same strokes while observing the master painter. Creativity and personal thought is not necessarily rewarded (in fact, there are instances in history where it was punished--sometimes by death). That also translates into other areas of learning. There is a distinct sense of hierarchy and propriety. This system of learning dates back to at least when the Emperial exams were established in China.

    The notion that comes from constructivism that teachers are co-constructing learning with their students or even that students are constructing their own learning takes a back seat to the traditional mindset. Yes, constructivism has found its way into Confucian-heritage education but it has been molded and "added-on." I think it's doubtful that it will ever truly replace the current system. And there are arguments that there is also value in the more product-based way of learning.

    So, after working in this system what I take away is that a complete overhaul of the system is very unlikely--not at least within the near future. It's still a very exam (product) driven system which gives a nod to "catering for learner diversity" while at the same time not modifying the exam system to actually accomplish that task. So, the system continues to be incongruent (at least in the public Hong Kong system). So, teachers are constantly being updated on new research and new approaches through training which they are expected to adopt on top of continuing the old ways. It's a huge burden.

    Now, I think as parents we can choose differently for our children but as they say, "Nothing is perfect." I find that living in HK means a lot of compromise for me. But, it's the same way with a lot of personal decisions parents make for their children. I personally believe that medication-free, spontaneous, natural, vaginal childbirth is the absolute best option for giving birth. I also believe that exclusive breastfeeding is the absolute best option for children. I don't think these are necessarily "cultural issues" but they are definitely affected by the culture. Will I be able to convince the whole system in HK to become med-free birth and exclusive breastfeeding friendly? Probably not. Can I choose these myself and for my children? Yes. The problem in HK is choice. We honestly have to make do with what's available to us as far as education goes. The schools that my children will attend aren't everything I want them to be but they're not absolutely off-the-mark (in my opinion) either. Yes, they could be more learner-centered for sure.

    I guess I'm saying, that as a parent, I see my job as one of "picking up the slack." Whatever weaknesses I find in the current system, I need to creatively come up with ideas to solve myself with my children. I can't depend on the schools to develop all of the attributes that I think are necessary and beneficial for my children. It would be much better if the system was different but unfortunately, it's not.
    carang, okezie and Luzz like this.
    “Many women have described their experiences of childbirth as being associated with a
    spiritual uplifting, the power of which they have never previously been aware …
    To such a woman childbirth is a monument of joy within her memory.
    She turns to it in thought to seek again an ecstasy which passed too soon.”

    ~ Grantly Dick-Read (Childbirth Without Fear)

    Mother of Two
    JMW, boy, born November 29, 2007, 9:43 pm, USA
    MJW, girl, born March 17, 2011, 4:14 pm, HK

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    charade is offline Registered User
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    What constitutes a quality education will differ from culture to culture and even from individual to individual. That said, just because something is culturally accepted doesn't mean it is necessarily the best way to be - some cultures valorise boy children and systematically discriminate against girl children. It may be cultural practice to do so but that doesn't mean it should be retained for all eternity.

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    thanka2 is offline Registered User
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    Quote Originally Posted by charade View Post
    What constitutes a quality education will differ from culture to culture and even from individual to individual. That said, just because something is culturally accepted doesn't mean it is necessarily the best way to be - some cultures valorise boy children and systematically discriminate against girl children. It may be cultural practice to do so but that doesn't mean it should be retained for all eternity.
    I agree that just because it is culturally rooted doesn't mean it's the best practice. I think the key word here is should. There are a lot of grey areas when it comes to should. In the case of constructivism, it is actually a fairly recent theory and it is that, a theory. It is widely accepted as current best practice but we have to look at a lot of different factors about it's practicality in a different culture. I'm not saying it is not practical but I am saying it is up against the traditions of the longest-running civilization on the planet. I think that there is a lot of change and adaptation taking place already in education in Hong Kong but the issue is that it's often being "added" on when the foundation is culturally the same. Yes, there can be improvement but personally, I am not looking to the system to overhaul itself over night.
    carang likes this.
    “Many women have described their experiences of childbirth as being associated with a
    spiritual uplifting, the power of which they have never previously been aware …
    To such a woman childbirth is a monument of joy within her memory.
    She turns to it in thought to seek again an ecstasy which passed too soon.”

    ~ Grantly Dick-Read (Childbirth Without Fear)

    Mother of Two
    JMW, boy, born November 29, 2007, 9:43 pm, USA
    MJW, girl, born March 17, 2011, 4:14 pm, HK

  7. #7
    charade is offline Registered User
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    Agree with you Thanka. found your post on Confucionism in education interesting. My statement containing 'should' was not specific to education actually.

  8. #8
    okezie is offline Registered User
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    Really happy to get this wonderful discussion. I just feel a bit annoyed at times with a lot of stuff in my workplace - handwashing, smocks, hair fixing that takes most of the outdoor play time in the afternoon, "be careful" attitude is an area that has been irking me lately. I have kinda quit being careful when sharing reasons why I dont think it will work.

    I hope to get a bit of sleep to really knuckle down and respond and expand.

    IN short, tHe add on of constructivist approach to the product driven traditional style is so true thanka and it is great to have someone voice it so eloquently!! "A place where East and West Meet" is more confused than confucian at many times. HOwever, my steamroll approach with my teaching partners is working at the moment (I still have a job!). My defence now is that I cant let up because of my belief in the rights of the children in my class, while my colleague generally only has the "thats how it has always been done" defence.

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