Details

Constructivism and Teachers in Chinese Culture


Constructivism and Teachers in Chinese Culture

Enriching Confucianism with Constructivism

von: Zitong Wei

103,52 €

Verlag: Springer
Format: PDF
Veröffentl.: 11.01.2019
ISBN/EAN: 9789811326912
Sprache: englisch

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Beschreibungen

This book provides a refreshing look at kindergarten teachers’ practical knowledge and their context-specific reasoning of the usefulness of constructivism from a culturally emic perspective. Examining the similarities and differences between constructivism and Confucianism from both instructional and moral perspectives, it provides a unique contribution to teaching and teacher education. An understanding of the compatibility between constructivism and Confucianism is valuable in cross-cultural exchange and learning, and as such the book is a great source for educational researchers in a time of globalization.
In Chapter 1, I state the problem, the purpose and the significance of this study. Whereas the majority of research of Chinese kindergarten teacher beliefs and practices focuses on didactic teaching behaviors and whole class teaching, limited attention has yet been paid to why teachers embraced constructivism. In fact, during more than 2,000 years in China, young children were usually brought up by their illiterate mothers. Their way of learning through observations and dialogues shares similarities with constructivist active way of knowing. In order understand why constructivism is necessary for in-service teachers in a Chinese cultural context, I adapt Bronfenbrenner’s ecological model (1979, 2005) with visual structures and explanations as the theoretical framework of this research. In my first adaptation, teachers are situated at the center so that the model represents factors influencing teacher beliefs and practices. The second gestalt adaptation represents teacher co-creation of constructivism under various influences following a Chinese way of thinking. Based on the adapted model, I put forward three research questions: 1) How do teachers implement constructivism in practice? 2) Based on teachers’ implementation of constructivism, how do they understand the meaning of constructivism, that is, the relationship between play and learning? 3) Why do teachers find constructivism useful in contemporary times?Chapter 2 and Chapter 3 present key literature on which the book is built. Chapter 2 provides literatures of the wholeness, the relativity and the systems (Huang, 2006), ideas key to a Confucian way of thinking. Constructivism and Confucianism share similarities in four aspects: experience and dao, inquiry and li, community and ren, and holism and the Mean (Grange, 2004, Xu, 2012). However, these theories are built on subtly different worldviews. Because constructivism (as defined in this book) is usually at odds with dualism, teaching and learning is geared for the underlying goal of integrating mind and body to form a whole. From a Confucian perspective, mind and body are an original fusion subject to being reinterpreted. Whereas constructivism emphasizes on autonomous beings, Confucianism focuses on flexible processes of becoming (Kawajiri, 2009). The differences provide both opportunities and challenges for cross-cultural teaching and learning. The Confucian implementation of dao can be enhanced through a Deweyan perspective of experience, and the Deweyan idea of holism can be problematized by the Confucian view of the Mean. Connecting theories with practices and my data, I propose flexible teachers, prepared environments, and respectful sociomoral atmosphere as three concrete ways to enhance the implementation of Confucianism in the contemporary Chinese context. Given the focus on kindergarten teachers, the chapter also includes a review on the Chinese context, The Guidance for Kindergarten Education with constructivism as an underlying idea and policy implementation. The chapter also suggests another hidden clue, slowly unfolds in the following chapters but not made explicit until the last chapter: whether and in what ways could research from a Confucian perspective shed lights on the philosophical foundation of constructivism?Chapter 4 introduces methodologies in four related sections: research design, sampling, data collection, and data analysis. The methodologies and process of producing this research itself correspond with the framework. Because of the complexities of a Chinese way of thinking, I argue that it is important to use qualitative research design (Corbin & Strauss, 2008) that are drawn from different methodologies: grounded theory (Yin, 2011), phenomenological study (Seidman, 2006), hermeneutics (Zhou, 2013), participant-observation and action research. Given the research question and the need to examine common patterns among differences, purposeful sampling is used (Patton, 2002) in selecting a kindergarten where maximizing variation sampling (Patton, 2002) of teachers is enabled. Based on a Chinese way of inductive learning, deductive thinking, and the coherence of theories and practices, the interview and observation data are coded following three steps: open coding, axial coding, and selective coding (S. Strauss & Corbin, 1990). Hermeneutics is used to further refine themes and interpret different degrees of teacher utilization of constructivism with different emphases. Guided by a relational way of thinking, discussions of three teachers as different but related cases are organized with five common themes (Active Learning, Heuristic Teaching, Learning through Play, Culturally Intrinsic Ways of Learning through Dialogues and Observation, and Time versus Tradition). In addition, I propose the importance of examining the three teachers’ persona, the ballerina, the set designer and the accompanist, together with their relational persona as members of a drama. The chapter concludes with 7 methods for increasing validity (Lincoln and Guba, 1985).Chapters 5-7 are three complementary chapters on findings.Chapters 8-9 address theoretical and practical implications. In Chapter 8, findings are integrated with research question, theoretical framework and literature discussed in Chapters 1-2. In answer to the research question of why teachers in Chinese culture think constructivism is useful, Chapter 8 begins with discussions on the probability and necessity of enriching Confucianism with constructivism. The three teachers’ reflections indicate that they unconsciously utilize constructivism as a useful approach in light of Confucian moral tradition. Just as two relativities circulate to shape The Way, the teachers’ abilities balancing between the intertwined complexity of “good” and “bad” suggest the qualitative nature of “appropriate” practices. The compatibility is elaborated with a discussion on different understanding of modernity and the ambiguity between the phenomenon and nounemon. By comparing Frye’s (1993) bird in cage metaphor with a thaumatrope bird in cage example, I note the importance of differentiating the functions of cages: serving as constraints versus “shelters” for morality. As a theory developed in postmodern and globalized context, constructivism can be a useful moral “shelter” for teachers in Chinese culture to address benevolence and equality. To further illustrate the compatibilities and why teachers thought it useful to adopt constructivist teaching, I compare the similarities between Confucian and constructivist ways of teaching. I argue the necessity of utilizing constructivism based on the limitation of contemporary development of Confucianism and the importance of correcting misinterpretations of Confucianism. The chapter ends with theoretical implications for future researchers. Additionally, the compatibility of practices when examined through the categories of the wholeness, the relativity and the systems implicitly uncover the hidden clue for researchers in Western cultural contexts: whether and in what ways could research from a Confucian perspective shed lights on the philosophical foundation of constructivism?
Zitong Wei received her Ph.D in Curriculum Studies from Indiana University Bloomington and is now an instructor at China Women’s University. She is currently teaching a foundational course on pedagogy and a research course on early childhood education. She also serves as a mentor and a coordinator for psychological counseling services and activities. Her research interests include early childhood teacher education, phenomenological and hermeneutic research, and educational policy. She is currently working on several manuscripts on feminist curriculum and educational hermeneutic research.
This book provides a refreshing look at kindergarten teachers’ practical knowledge and their context-specific reasoning of the usefulness of constructivism from a culturally emic perspective. Examining the similarities and differences between constructivism and Confucianism from both instructional and moral perspectives, it provides a unique contribution to teaching and teacher education. An understanding of the compatibility between constructivism and Confucianism is valuable in cross-cultural exchange and learning, and as such the book is a great source for educational researchers in a time of globalization.
Explores the similarities and differences between constructivism and ConfucianismProvides readers with an understanding of constructivist practices from a culturally emic perspectiveOffers insights for readers to rethink cultural appropriateness

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