Class Session 13/14 International

Reflections on the Class Session 13/14 about International programs

The quote by Sir John Daniel 
1990-2001  at Open University
education positions at Open University (1990-2001), Unesco and, he claims that the "global knowledge economy" is important.  
Reflect:  This quote bring to mind Gordon Dryden, who calls for a system of sharing lesson plans with 59 million teachers, who teach 1.5 billion students.  (with his numbers, there are about 25 students per teacher).

Dryden, G. & Vos, J. (1999, 2009). The Learning Revolution.  Stafford, UK:  New Educational Press.

"The field needs to be reinvented.  Clarify the differeence between teaching and learning."  (Visser)
Reflect:  evaluation of teachers is largely on how you present information and interact with students.  I rarely see evaluators talking with students and checking their comprehension.  The evaluation is 90% about procedures the teacher uses -- and whether those procedures are "accepted practices."  This connects with the cultural bias (below) and the expectations students bring to class.

Visser critiques the industrialized models and suggests that a non traditional model is needed.  
Reflect:  one of my colleagues in class, Krishna (Methods of Inquiry), is from Suriname.  Wow, talk about a non-traditional model ... his boyhood friend is set to become minister of education and wants Krishna to come down to implement changes in distance education.  He is already planning how NOT to use certain procedures here in the USA.  Again, there needs to be sensitivity about non-traditional models.  I hear Visser saying that we should avoid a "one size fits all, one method fits all" mentality.

Page 13
REFLECTION:  The Evans quote on page 13 is a bit confusing.   He says that constructivists oppose analyses of the context in wihc teaching and learning occur.  I thought that constructivists like project based learning and that they need a variety of disciplines.  Is the issue about analysis?  Perhaps constructivists are unwilling to admit that learning takes place in industrialized models that do not use projects?

Or is this Evans quote an attack (similar to Kirschner) on the theory that "students need to discover their own meaning" and that teachers should guide very little?

Charlotte Gunawardena
The cultural bias influences the learning process.  
Reflection:  I found some of this in some readings about international education.  The assumption is that everyone can learn calculus, it's just that many people don't put the time in to learn it.  In the USA, with people like Dennis Littky (, several videos on, the way to study calculus is to relate the subject to the student's interests...and if there is no clear use for a subject in the students' lives, why teach it at all.   That is a kind of cultural bias -- which goes both ways.   Some Korean students that I've met claim that US people are lazy, that's why US students don't do well in math.   True, but more institutions in the USA have access to less regimented curricula than many Asian schools.  Asia is catching up with the introduction of innovative schooling (project based learning) -- I saw a report recently about China introducing open classrooms to prepare students for study in the USA.

My cousin Robert in Guanzhou is looking for teachers and a director to start a school -- parents of students in his town want to pay whatever it takes to start a school -- in three months (I heard about this project in June, with a goal of setting up the school in September).  The assumption is that "there will be learning" and teachers will be expected to produce results of higher test scores on SAT and other standardized tests (TOEFL) in the USA.  No room for vocational training.  There are no expectations that 20% or 30% will not pass the test or will not graduate.   That's a cultural bias.  The parents, who are wealthy, don't leave the space for lower grades.  Some university students from Asia have pondered suicide for getting less than an A in a course. 

All of this cultural pressure has consequnces:  according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services,   , "Asian American women ages 15 to 24 lead in the highest suicide rate amongst all ethnic groups."

McFadden, C. (2010, January 6). "Growing Rate of Depression, Suicide Among Asian American Students,"  Pacific Citizen.

I know that some students are better suited for alternatives that don't include college prep.  These rich Chinese parents have attitudes similar to Bill Gates:  Schools should prepare all students for college. 


Terry W. Hartle, senior vice president for government and public affairs at the American Council on Education, said that having states work toward common standards for preparing students could help reduce the number of people who need extra academic preparation once they reach college.

"If you're academically prepared for college, you're far more likely to graduate," Mr. Hartle said. "Remedial education is expensive and inefficient, and if we're able to reduce it, we'll be able to focus on college-level work."

Sewall, M. (June 2, 2010).  "New National Standards Seek to Make All Students Ready for College

Chronicle of Higher Education,

A table from a study indicates that there is much work to be done.
August 17, 2011

Few Students Are Ready for College Coursework, ACT Says

The argument is that "new research suggests that the skills needed to get and keep good jobs are very similar to what colleges demand of incoming freshmen.

When students take challenging courses in high school, they have more options when they graduate. What used to be thought of as “college- prep” curriculum is now the basic level of preparation all students need to be successful in college and the workplace.

Well, that's my cultural bias.  I would rather not subject kids to standardized rigor if they want to do something else.  My fear is that what is "college prep" is assumed to be a one-size fits all program.   I just don't see why everybody needs to study trigonometry, matrices and the formulae for 

Example:  I have students learning the word "apothem" in geometry -- it's not worth defining here, and why should their final grade be affected by whether or not it is taught?  

This class session has resulted in a list of websites to visit and points to ponder when I talk with teachers in other countries.  i give workshops about techniques for teaching English and I realize that I'm basing many of my presenations on how I would teach in that country.  i need to revise my workshops and make space for non-traditional approaches.
to do:  Commonwealth of Learning

Return to HOME  EDD 7007