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Blog Posted in avatar   Nattavud Pimpa's Blog

Not so international education

By Nattavud Pimpa
Posted Jan 31, 2012 in World
AUSTRALIA largely ignores the theoretical concepts that Asian students bring with them, thereby missing an opportunity to internationalise research and create new knowledge.
So say University of Western Sydney education academics Michael Singh and Xiafang Chen in a new book called Reshaping Doctoral Education.
Although Australia's "international education'' sector recruits mostly Asian students, our researchers show very little engagement with non-western scholarly traditions, the authors say.
They say the problem begins with names, whereby students are "told their Chinese names are too difficult to remember. Academics change students' names so their classrooms and students are 'English'.''
"Marginalisation of Chinese students' intellectual resources includes rejecting their bilingual capabilities,'' the authors say.
The message is that English is "the only legitimate academic language [and] white, middle-class Anglophone speakers are its legitimate owners''.
"International doctoral students sense that their English language proficiency is forever being judged as deficient.''
The authors draw on various papers suggesting that Chinese theoretical tools are neglected because of the ignorance of local academics; "a belief that 'Western theories' have discovered the right path to understanding''; or a view that Chinese students are passive, uncritical learners as a result of "China's supposedly arcane culture and outdated traditions''.
Their book chapter, Ignorance and pedagogies of intellectual equality, focuses on the humanities and social sciences, especially the field of education.
They describe a research project that attempts to elicit useful theoretical concepts from Chinese doctoral students.
This involved Professor Singh encouraging his then doctoral student Ms Chen to find Chinese metaphors to analyse leadership in reforms to secondary schooling in Queensland.
They concluded that a Chinese concept to do with multi-dimensional leadership was more useful than a Western concept of "tri-level leadership''.
"When coming to Australia, I fully expected and wanted to receive a 'Western' doctoral education in 'Western theories','' Dr Chen says.
"[However], internationalising doctoral education is not just about Western universities giving 'Western theories' to non-Western students.
"It is rather an approach to education that combines non-Western and Western intellectual heritages and knowledge.''
The book, edited by Alison Lee and Susan Danby, is published by Routledge.

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