Cultural values still matter in teaching: HK academic
TRADITIONAL cultural values are still relevant in teaching, despite the increasing importance placed on acquiring 21st century skills, a visiting University of Hong Kong professor said.
Professor Frederick Leung at the University of Hong Kong’s Faculty of Education said there has been a lot of talk about 21st century skills, as if things in the past are no longer relevant.
“There is an assumption that these (21st century) skills are universal and applied to all cultures,” said the keynote speaker at Universiti Brunei Darussalam’s (UBD) 18th International Conference on Education 2015.
In his paper, “The Relevance of Traditional Cultural Values for Education in the 21st Century”, Professor Leung said culture has to be taken into account when looking at 21st century skills.
“My plea is that in any country, we have to look at our own culture. Take out what is beneficial and contribute that to our learning and achievement... and not just look at global objective skills,” he said.
“Take Brunei for example, instead of just looking at every global 21st century skills, I think they should look into Brunei’s culture such as the Malay and (Muslim) culture. See what is relevant for students’ learning in today’s world,” he added.
Professor Leung spoke of how the belief of working hard in East-Asian culture is slowly being lost to Western-inspired education systems.
He explained that education systems in the region follow the Confucian heritage culture where students are generally viewed as passive, unwilling to ask questions or speak up in class and often based on memorising rather than understanding knowledge.
This is in contrast to Western-inspired education models that promote pleasurable learning.
“Students need to be excited through having a lot of activities but they seldom work very hard on problems, especially in Mathematics and they give up too easily.
“I think this is part of the Western conception of student-centred learning and it is always the interests of students that are of utmost importance,” he said.
While Professor Leung said students’ interests are very important, students also need to be given a push.
“In the Confucian concept, studying is a hardship. It is not something one enjoys. I want the audience to reflect what it is in their own culture that is relevant to the classroom,” he added.
The Brunei Times