Two way
learning? A
critique of
to teaching
and learning.
Toni Dobinson
School of Education
International education has made a
significant contribution to Australia. It has
grown to now be our third largest source of
overseas earnings ...
The Hon Julia Gillard MP ( May 2009)
• In Australia -Annual export figure for educational
activity of
$18.3 billion in 2010 (AEI, 2011)
• $10.4 billion (59%) in Higher Education
• Top 10 contributors were: China (24.3%) India
(14.6%) Republic of Korea (5.7%) Malaysia (4.6%)
Vietnam (4.5%) Thailand (3.8%) Indonesia (3.3%)
Nepal (3.0%) Hong Kong (2.8%) Brazil (2.0%)
Other (including Saudi Arabia – 28.2%)
Transnational Educational
• In 2009, 320,970 international students studying
with an Australian institution of higher education
• 100,492 (31.3%) of these studying offshore
(AEI, 2011)
• MA (Applied Linguistics) course taught
transnationally in Ho Chi Min City.
• Exchange of ideas about teaching and
learning between Vietnamese lecturers and
Australian lecturers on same course.
• Literature describing approaches to teaching
and learning in terms of an ‘Orientalist Binary
Paradigm’ (Takayama, 2008).
• Discourses on Orientalism and ‘othering’
Organisation of the presentation
• Approaches to teaching and learning
• Social and theoretical discourses on Asia
and ‘othering’
• ‘Spilling over’ of these discourses into
research on ‘Asian’ approaches to
teaching and learning
• Ways forward for teaching and learning in
the Asia Pacific region.
• Mechanistic out – organismic, Humanistic
in (Rogers, Maslow, Tennant, Bloom,
• The learning society (Schon, Hutchins, )
• Transformative learning –– instrumental
learning out – communicative learning in
• Learning =action collectively or
individually, emotional , spiritual (Mezirow,
Daloz, Cunningham, Boyd)
• Experiential and informal (workplace) in –
classroom out (Boud, Eraut)
• ‘Orientalism as a Western style for dominating,
restructuring, and having authority over the
Orient’. ( Said, 1978, p.3)
Orientalism-almost a European
invention…one of its deepest and
most recurring images of the ‘other’
(Saud, 1978, p.1)
The European is a close reasoner; his statements of fact
are devoid of any ambiguity;
The mind of the Oriental , on the other hand , like his
picturesque streets, is eminently wanting in symmetry
The Oriental generally acts, thinks and speaks in a
manner exactly opposite to the European (Cromer,
‘selective amnesia’
‘denying of creativity and
‘continued essentially the same’
(Tavakoli-Targhi, Malcolm)
Women – demure, sensual, subservient
Men- cold, inscrutable, cruel
Spilling over into reports of Asian
approaches to learning?
• reproductive (rote)
• dependent on teacher
• pragmatic/surface
• passive – listen and obey
(Noesjirwan, 1970; Chan, 1999; Ballard,
Confucius versus Socrates
• Passivity, obedience, lack of creativity or
critique, pragmatic (surface) learning,
instrumental learning attributed to
Confucian East.
• Questioning, evaluating, doubting,
critiquing (deep) and communicative
learning attributed to Socratic West (also
deriving from Dewy (1899, 1916)
Setting the record straight- Confucian
• Confucius urged his students to sift his teachings
and criticise his statements:
11:4 → Hui is no help to me at all. He is pleased
with everything I say.
• He didn’t necessarily endorse teacher/student
The teacher does not have to be more
knowledgeable than the pupil; and the pupil is not
necessarily always less learned than the teacher
(cited in Cheng, 2000, p. 4)
• Dialectic→Ways of thinking and socio-political
structures - Confucian attitudes a product of time
of stability – Taoism, Buddhism approaches
different – less stable (Geyer, 2003).
Setting the record straight- Socratic
• Learning (surface/deep) in Western universities
dependent upon nature and year of course (Kirkpatrick
& Mulligan, 2002) ‘Deep’ approach takes years to
develop – even for academics (Haggis, 2003)
• Memorisation does not preclude deep understanding
(Kember, 2000).
• Critical’ thinking often just means mirroring lecturer’s
ideas (Webb, 1997; Sandeman-Gay, 1999)
• Asking Asian students to critically think in university
settings - are we really just asking them to imitate our
preferred learning style? This is Behavourist not
organismic (Kegan, 1994).See Mahbubani quote
• Not always safe for students to articulate critical
thought e.g. Indonesian student
• Can have a teacher centred approach which
produces independent learners (Brookefield,
• Western learning theory and teaching
practices = ‘grand narrative’ , ‘hegemonies’
that don’t fit reality of most learners in mass
educational systems (Haggis, 2003)
• Mental colonisation – power and privileged
versus feelings of worthlessness, thinking
incongruent with ‘essence of being’ (Apsland,
1999). Quote Mahbubani
• Learning a product of its time (Foucault,
• Recent research has laid ground for
dismantling ‘Orientalist binary paradigms’
(Takayama, 2008) often based on ‘othering’
and Orientalist notions.
• Asia much more confident now – rapid
economic development. Quote Mahbubani,
• Lecturers educated at post grad level in
Western universities can occupy ‘the Third
Space’ (Kramsch, 1993a, 2009) –
intercultural competence
• Are we yet again heading in different
directions though? Japan/USA
• More focus on social/ theoretical discourses,
history and cross cultural awareness in teacher
education (pre-service and in-service) and
knowledge of recent empirical research
• More collaborative (across national borders)
qualitative research by practitioners in the field
recognising power relations , ethnocentricity etc
• Joint delivery of transnational courses with
onshore and offshore teachers/lecturers;
recognition of offshore teachers superior
intercultural competence = learning opportunities
for those in East and West.
• More symmetrical dialogue – Asian teachers and
Australian teachers which goes beyond national
differences and binary paradigms and is situated
in a globalised world.
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