The intersection of pedagogy and culture

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There can be, on the part of western-educated teachers teaching in Taiwan, a dismissive attitude towards traditional methods of instruction that causes tension. Because these teachers are looking – from their point in history – at pedagogies that have not been used in their countries for 30 to 40 years, the assumption is that what they do is better. “It’s very old hat”, or “it’s the kind of teaching your grandparents got” are common descriptions. Even the language used to describe contemporary approaches to teaching – progressive pedagogies – denotes progressing beyond these more traditional methods. Such descriptions could be seen as demeaning or dismissive of the traditional Confucian values evident in instruction in a Taiwanese classroom.

I’m not interested in who’s right & who’s wrong, but in such divergent attitudes clashing in the international school setting in Taiwan.

The dichotomy in the thinking on the part of an Asian parent who chooses (at great personal cost) to send their child to an international school, and to a buxiban is interesting, and worth investigating. My suspicion is that the international school education is viewed both as a means to get a university education at a respected international university, and as a way of building social capital among other middle class Taiwanese and international families, while the buxiban is viewed as providing those traditional, tried-and-tested pedagogies for the subjects valued most (mathematics and sciences).

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