ERG SES H 04, International Contexts in Education
- Introduction and Objective
After the Reform and Opening Up in 1978, the relatively closed basic education in China has unveiled its mystery. However, in order to maintain its own talent training system, the Chinese government has always been conservative about international education and curriculum. But in recent years, with the intensification of globalization, in some big cities, such as Beijing and Shanghai, schools with mixed Chinese and foreign curriculum have also begun to emerge. These school rituals have the characteristics of both Chinese and Western cultures, and contain rich cultural conflicts and integration.
I choose the assembly rituals of an Shanghai international bilingual PYP (Primary Years Programme of IB ) school named HCID using the research methods of anthropology and education. These kind of schools combine the Chinese traditional culture and international ideas, which have their unique cultural background. And I tried to show how does it make students and teachers who come from foreign and China, understand and internalize this cultural integration. So I conducted a field survey of nearly six months to analyzes the balances and choices between the cultural contradictions embodied in assembly rituals, and the cultural fusion behind this choice based on Geert Hofstede's culture dimensions theory.
- Research Question
How did school pass on the cultures to teachers and students through the assembly in the cross-cultural environment?
- Theoretical Framework
This research is largely based on the theory of Cultural Dimensions. It was proposed by Geert Hofstede's (1980) Culture's Consequences, one of the most cited sources in the Social Science Citation Index, is the most influential work to date in the study of cross cultural management. And the four dimensions was enriched in Cultures and Organization: Software of the Mind (2005) to Five dimensions:
- the power distance index
- Individualism and collectivism
- Masculinity and femininity
- Uncertainty avoidance index
- long-term orientation and short-term orientation
There are many studies using this theory in educational research from different aspects(Contiu et al.,2012; Bissessar, 2018). But this theory is not perfect. It is argued that there is a philosophical flaw inherent in some dimensions especially the last one (Fang, 2003). In this dimension, it does not give a reasonable philosophical explanation to Chinese culture, especially Confucius culture. Therefore, I combined this theory with this study and changed it. Based on the various actions of teachers and students in assembly rituals, I divide culture into four dimensions:
- freedom and discipline
- democracy and the authority
- Individualism and collectivism
- active and passive
and nested the types of assembly:
- Teaching Evaluation and Demonstration (Learner Profile/ Attitude/ UOI Presentation, G5 Exhibition Promotion...)
- Elections(Student Council, House Assembly...)
- Festival celebration( Book week, Chinese Near Year Celebration, International Day...)
From the perspective of Anthropology and Politics(Turner, 1967; Kertzer, 1988), I tried to analyse the process and structure of assembly rituals.
Rituals cannot only reflect the features of a single school, but also construct the culture of schools. Ritual are in a process of structure—anti-structure—structure. It tells the differences between holiness and common customs, demonstrates the power as a sign (Song D. 2004), realizes the cognition of the culture, as well as constructs the cultural choice and cultural expression among the teachers and students. It is a good try for students learn to understand each other in cross-culture environment in modern China. Although there are power games and cultural conflicts in it, the choice of schools is also controversial.
In order to obtain first-hand information, I entered the school to do the field research as an intern teacher, so I can go through the school freely. Compared with full-time teachers, I am more able to examine the ritual behavior in schools from the standpoint and attitude of a "bystander". And with the status of inter-teacher, I am easier to get the trust of school teachers and students, so as to understand their real ideas about the assembly. At the same time, I also find my own balance between the function and structure of rituals, participation in teaching behavior and calm academic observation. In addition to writing field notes, I also collected a large number of video, school calendar, student work and other empirical materials to support my analysis.
Conclusions: As a relatively new form of school, HCID combines different cultural characteristics. It has been trying to find a balance to integrate Chinese and Western cultures, and constantly breaking the boundaries between the two cultures in assembly ritual, and the school culture has been constantly updated and transformed. Through the special carrier of assembly, HCID constantly breaks the students' original class structure, a large collective concept of "school" has been formed. On the occasion of the assembly, students also learned to know themselves. They learned to be a member of a class in the assembly undertaken by one's own class; separated the two concepts of "own class" and "other class"; experienced the difference and integration between "other" culture and “own” culture in the festival assembly. At the assembly, HCID concentrated on displaying the intricate ecological structure of the campus. Students also completed self-identity, school identity and student group identity in this process. They constantly internalized the cultural concepts conferred by the school. After the assembly ritual, the students returned to the original social structure and completed the process of structure-anti-structure ritual and internalized the cultural choices made by school. In this context, it can be clearly seen that the fruit of Western education on the land of the Chinese, as well as the outstanding performance of traditional Chinese education in Western-style curriculum. It also existed problems caused by the imbalance between the two sides. Some so-called freedom and democracy are a mere formality, and some teaching behaviors that should be strictly managed are neglected. As the rules o the social game(Hofstede G.J, et.la. 2002), cultures are very important in global conservation. In China, a conservative, open, ancient and modern country, students try to have intercultural understanding at school assembly ritual.
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