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The one day seminar co-hosted by the Institute of Curriculum and Instruction (College of Education) and the Institute of Cross-Cultural Studies (School of International Studies) on “Discourse, History

Date: 2012-11-14       Visitcount: 1164

    On Nov.4th, the one day seminar on “Discourse, History and Culture: Education Change in Comparative Perspectives” was successfully held at Xixi Campus. The seminar was co-hosted by the Institute of Curriculum and Instruction of the College of Education and the Institute of Cross-cultural Studies of the School of International Studies. The Seminar was originally planned for 30~40 participants; however, more than 80 participants were counted when the seminar was opened. Teachers and graduate students coming from the College of Education, the School of International Studies, the College of Humanities, and other Universities aside from Zhejiang University, were all engaged in this event and made it a more inspiring and successful seminar. The seminar was co-chaired by Professor Thomas Popekwitz (Department of Curriculum and Instruction, University of Wisconsin-Madison), Zhang Wenjun (director of the Institute of Curriculum and Instruction) and Wu Zongjie (Director of the Institute of Cross-Cultural Studies).

    The seminar started at 9 o’clock in the morning with the key note speaker Professor Popkewitz’s reflections on the topic of “The Paradox of Comparative Studies: The Presentation of the Others as Exclusions and Abjections”. Professor Popkewitz shared a series of thoughts on “The Conundrum of Comparative Studies: Homogenizing the West in the Rest”, “Comparative Studies, Enlightenment Attitudes and Modernity”, “The Reason of Reason: A Method of Study”. He showed us with vivid pictures and examples of how the concepts, the study of reason, and the language are cultural theses and historical assemblies. He took John Dewey as an example to explain how he has become a moving dictionary and social construct as conceptual personae that reflects the Reform Protestantism, American Exceptionalism and Science as a Salvation Narrative. He reminded us that when we are doing comparative studies in education, we always need to be aware that all reasoning is a cultural thesis; we need to see how everything is correlated with each other as a whole, and to be aware of ourselves.No matter how you try to break away from the mentality of your cultural attitudes, you are always trapped. His insightful ideas inspired a heated discussion among the participants.

    After the key note presentation, the seminar carried on with 4 thematic sessions; 16 speakers shared their studies and ideas on “Chinese indigenous Education”, “Educational culture in-between”, “Education in Cross-cultural perspectives”, and “historical thinking of Education”. Each session was 1 hour, including 10 minute presentations by each of 4 speakers followed by 20 minutes of open discussion. In the first session, Associate Professor Cheng Dazhi from the School of International Studies, Deputy director of the Institute of Cross-Cultural Studies Fu Zheng, PhD student Qing Bailan and Yu Hua gave us great examples and reflections on Chinese indigenous education. The presentations “Implications of indigenous critical pedagogy for the revival of Confucian education in China”, “Indigenization of an Anglo-Chinese college in modern China”, "Pedagogical space embedded in landscape and neighborhoods: a discourse analysis of Chinese traditional local gazetteers”, and “The transmission of indigenous knowledge in a Miao village: an anthropological perspective”, showed us the liveliness and meaning of Chinese indigenous identity in education. Professor Popkewitz responded to the speakers stating that we need to be cautious and be aware whether we could rediscover the past or we are actually recreating the past, as past is always embedded in its own circumstances. When we are exploring “indigenous” terms, we always need to think of the nature of the culture, of what we are living in now.

    The second session focused on culture and education. Associate Professor Zhao Hongyan from the School of International Studies, PhD student Han Chunyan from the School of International Studies, and Dr. He Shanyun from the Institute of Curriculum and Instruction discussed the theme from three different perspectives on the topic of “Teaching for identities, writing between the "We" and "I" paradigm”, “Diversity as a transformative force: developing institutional culture for teacher learning”, and “Post-modern film and the esthetic pedagogy of city life: an effective way of promoting media literacy education in China mainland”. These topics aroused great interest among the participants, showing us how education, ideas and concepts are growing along with time and culture, and how important it is for us to rethink who we are in the classroom.

    The afternoon sessions started at 1:30. The session on “education in cross-cultural perspectives” was started by Zhang Wenjun, the Director from the Institute of Curriculum and Instruction. Her presentation was titled “When Elois meets Morlocks: rethinking the role of curriculum studies in front] of the cruel reality”. Liu Meilan, Associate Professor from the College of Education, China Jiliang University gave a presentation called “The study on the critical languages’ strategies in USA”, and talked about the new language education strategies and policies in the US; PhD student from the College of Education, Gao Huaiwei, presented research and reflections on “Transformation in Polish education-a focus on basic education policies and reformation”, and was followed by Shanghai Maritime University’s Li Jing’s discussion on “Cosmopolitanism, frontiers, and English curriculum after the reform”. The open discussion then focused on how we could understand the notions of traditions, progress, and how the language we use defines who we are and how we think. Finally the participants came to an agreement as Professor Popkewitz suggested that we are probably living in the myth of Sisyphus; that’s human reality, and it is always a continual struggle for us all.

    After a brief tea break, the final session discussed education from a historical perspective. Professor Wu Zongjie, the director of the Institute of Cross-cultural Studies, presented his thoughts on “Chinese mode of historical thinking and its transformation in pedagogical discourse”, emphasizing the importance of historical thinking in education research as an invitation to explore the limitations of our minds and the relationships of the past to the present and the future. Later, Associate Profeesor and Deputy Director of the Institute of Curriculum and Instruction, Liu Hui, discussed the “The history review about the contemporary curriculum study in China——from the view of history of concepts”. Dr. Tu Liya from the Institute of Curriculum and Instruction gave her reflections on “aradigm transition of curriculum study in China since 20th century: local context and foreign influence”. PhD student Wang Wenzhi presented research on “Histories of curriculum history: perspectives from the US and China”. All of the presentations were focused on the historical development of curriculum studies, and a PhD student from the School of International Studies presented “The Changing roles of Chinese classics: from interpretation for social reforms to self-strengthening through modern industries”. Professor Popkewitz said to the speakers that the historical perspective is of great importance, because the change is not only in the system, in organizational format, or even in notion, but how the same idea will go across time and cultures and travel along our history. We need to open up the black box of education study, curriculum study, because the very system of the society always comes to school and curriculum, and history is in this sense a way of constructing memory.

    With different ideas, thoughts, reflections and discussions going on, the seminar achieved great success. The seminar addressed the intellectual sensitivity of researchers from different backgrounds, and pushed our thinking to its limits to rethink how we continue to make the present with comprehensive understanding and reflections. All of the participants agreed that it was a precious and valuable experience for all to have the opportunity to share ideas and have conversations across disciplines in a condensed time, which made the seminar a time of great intellectual interaction; Everyone hoped we would have more events like this in the future. 


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