Studies of Asia across the Curriculum
Table of Contents
Nowadays much attention is paid to the implementation of various pedagogical approaches that would enable people to simplify and increase effectiveness of the educational process. This work is focused on the transformative pedagogy for teaching about Asia. Studying of this region is considered to be rather important due to globalization and development of multicultural contacts in the modern world. The paper will analyze appropriateness of transformative pedagogy for teaching in Asia based on the data from various studies. Much attention will be paid to the description and analysis of this approach, peculiarities of its application in teaching, empowerment of transformative pedagogy, and its impact on the effectiveness of education. The final part of the paper is devoted to description of strategies that can be used for introduction of transformative pedagogy into the curriculum. The precise depiction and analysis of this teaching approach and its application in the curriculum of educational institutions for teaching Asia facilitates better understanding of transformative pedagogy.
- Necessity of Transformative Pedagogy in Multicultural World
Globalization in the modern world has created the situation when personal and business interconnections go far beyond the borders of one country. Nowadays, people can live and work in different locations and travel hundreds of kilometers in a short period of time. Today, people “traverse regularly across borders of languages, cultures, and nations, constantly negotiating their roles” (Kim & Slapac, 2015, p. 17). Effective interaction in the modern world depends greatly on the understanding of values, languages and cultures of representatives of various countries. Such understanding can be gained during studying in the educational institutions.
The current paper is focused on teaching Asian culture by means transformative pedagogy. Considerable relevance of understanding the Asian culture suggests the need for in-depth analysis of the region. The Asian Pacific region consumes about 40 % of products in the world (Life Worth, 2008). Furthermore, Asian developed and developing countries showed an enormous economic growth in the recent decades (Macro Business, 2014). additionally, this place is inhabited by the representatives of diverse cultures with various views and understandings based on different but interweaved cultural and social development. On the one hand, Asia is widely recognized as the place of cheap resources and labor force (Life Worth, 2008). On the other hand, this location is known as the motherland of prominent engineers, philosophers, scientists, entrepreneurs, and programmers (Life Worth, 2008). Numerous global companies were formed in Asia, and at the current moment expand their presence all over the world through subsidiaries and trade investments.
Transformative pedagogy is considered to be rather effective in teaching about Asia. Thus, such form of education enables one to present new information about Asia, enrich and reassess personal knowledge about this region, and analyze the knowledge of other learners and professors. Close collaboration between the members of educational process will provide access to multiple funds of knowledge (Kim & Slapac, 2015). This will help the students to master critical skills needed for making informed and sensible decisions in their personal and professional lives (Gallangher, 2008).
- Transformative Pedagogy
Prior to defining the term of transformative pedagogy, it is necessary to identify the term of pedagogy. Pedagogy can be understood as “the integration in practice of particular curriculum content and design, classroom strategies and techniques, time and space” with the aim to practice and analyze them (Salama, 2009, p. 3). Transformative pedagogy is characterized as critical, liberatory, empowerment, and activist (Salama, 2009). This type of pedagogy makes an emphasis on the dialogue between learners and teachers. In this case, both parties value each other’s knowledge and views. Much attention is also paid to the empowerment of meaningful construction of new knowledge and changing of the existing one through collaboration between the educator and the learner.
Transformational pedagogy connects theoretical information with reality. The key feature of this type of pedagogy is that students attribute meaning to the studied information by applying their knowledge to the matters which are relevant for them (Vazhathodi, 2013). Nagda, Gurin, and Lopez (2003) stated that studying content without application of this form of education “divorced from reality” (Nagda, Gurin, & Lopez, 2003, p. 168). That means in traditional pedagogy, students and educators do not see any real-life application of the obtained information.
Transformational pedagogy, by contrast, seeks answers to what and how questions concerning the reality, i.e. the way of formation of knowledge, the components of knowledge, and social practices for its transmission (Salama, 2010). It aims to address people’s urgent desire for knowledge and understanding of the nature of things. This knowledge has enormous professional and social implications in the life of common people. Therefore, transformational pedagogy makes an emphasis on the development of knowledge for critical examination of traditional assumptions to addressing various issues which may rise during their life.
Transformative pedagogy is considered as a powerful tool of distribution of power in the educational process as opposed to focusing it in hands of professors. The concept of transformative pedagogy is based on the understanding that “interaction between educators and students reflects and fosters the broader societal pattern” (Salama, 2010, p. 18). Thus, the ideas, solutions, and outcomes are developed with the generalized vision of social, cultural, and environmental responsibilities of different individuals.
The application of this form of pedagogy enables students to relate the curriculum to their personal and collective experience. Moreover, it provides an ability to reassess issues and events which ae relevant particularly to them, i.e. which are present in their real life (Cummins, 2000). Students became more interested in the educational process and in the same time encouraged in the studying new information and discussing it in classes.
- Peculiarities of Teaching by the Application of Transformative Pedagogy
Teachers who apply ideas of transformative pedagogy in their educational practice should clearly understand peculiarities of this form of studying. They should act as active facilitators of the development of new ideas, their formation, and representation. At the same time, they should position themselves as co-learners who find out something new during studying of the topic and rely on the knowledge and experience of their students.
Teachers use questions and discussions to investigate students’ beliefs, views and expectations. The obtained knowledge is applied for building a comprehensive curriculum, which would be not only directed on representation of new information, but also enable learners to reflect their ideas “in context that challenges their assumptions of the world” (Brown, 2004, p. 84). It does not necessarily mean, though, that values formed in the minds of professors and students should be changed. They can be re-analyzed, re-assessed, accepted, justified, accepted, or non-accepted (Brown, 2004). In other words, transformative pedagogy does not represent the process of replacing of one sort of knowledge by another one without any sufficient grounds for this; it should be considered as the process of reappraisal of values.
Transformative pedagogy is considered to be an effective mechanism of personal change of students and educators. Critical reassessment and challenging are deeply oriented on the self of all concerned parties (Ennis, 2016). They are required to critically assess their beliefs and understandings and reconsider them by using new knowledge. However, these processes can also have a significant negative impact reflected in the destabilization of individual’s core values. This is caused by gap between the knowledge that was intended to be learned and the knowledge that was actually understood (Ennis, 2016).
- Empowerment of Transformative Pedagogy and Its Impact
Transformative pedagogy can be realized under the influence of events which have a significant impact on the individual, personal crisis, by performance of different exercises, reading, etc. (Brown, 2004). These events can be represented by challenging communication with other people. The exercises may be represented by a precise analysis and assessment of “ontological and epistemological assumptions” (Brown, 2004, p. 84). Such events and exercises facilitate effective and efficient cooperation with other individuals due to a better understanding of their needs and values. Moreover, these actions are very useful for absorption and analysis of new information that can be further applied in all spheres of real life. Thus, educators would enrich their personal and professional knowledge, thus helping them educate and address students’ issues more effectively. In the same time, students would obtain necessary assistance, knowledge, and recognition, which are valuable parts of the education process.
Employment of transformative pedagogy for teaching about Asia will require significant changes in the current curriculum. Educators should direct their efforts on increasing the extent of student engagement in the educational process, particularly in studying, analyzing and criticizing Asia. Moreover, educators are required to depart from the traditional orientation on studying local values and ideas (Adams & Findlay, 2015). They should make their narration more oriented on teaching Asia.
These changes in the curriculum would lead to significant shifts in the direction of communication of intent. The development of new ideas will be performed through inquiring. In the discussed type of pedagogical practice, educators act as the creator of learning and students serve as “contributors of information, experience, and ideas” (Adams and Findlay, 2015, p. 34). Thus, students obtain a strong stimulus for active engagement into the learning process.
Moreover, application of transformative pedagogy would assure opportunities to use a great variety of perspectives “and informed problem solving” (Adams & Findlay, 2015, p. 34). That means that students can develop their own views on Asia by taking into consideration opinions of other people. They also acquire an ability to analyze and examine views relative to their own. These actions facilitate the development of such personal features as responsibility, individual and collective identity, and ethics (Adams & Findlay, 2015).
Students and educators will use issue-based approaches to the detailed analysis of information about Asia in order to develop ideas and integrate facts into knowledge (Adams & Findlay, 2015). These are the main approaches in learning based on precise studying and analysis of various issues and distinct features which are vital for Asia. Thus, participants of the educational process become highly interested in studying the provided information and even searching for additional sources of information in order to develop and support their personal opinions.
- Strategies of Transformative Pedagogy Which Can Be Applied for Teaching about Asia
Teaching about Asia can be realized by using various strategies, such as a reflective analysis of journals and educational plunges (Brown, 2004). Both of these strategies can be successfully applied for effective studying of the peculiarities of social and cultural life in Asia. Application of these strategies would be useful both for educators and learners.
Professors can assign a reflective analysis of journals with the purpose to teach students to identify and clarify ideas, express their feelings, enlarge their scope of understanding, reassess personal attitudes and aspirations. Reading of journals enables students to review their issues and simultaneously perform a critical self-reflection and self-analysis. This activity gives students an ability to study new ideas, make connections between these ideas and established views, and draw conclusions which may be applied in their real life.
During the application of this strategy, students and professors may share their entries with each other, make comments to ideas presented by other individuals and perform enquiries (Brown, 2004). Communication between both parties of the educational process should be based on partnership and transparency (Scofield et al., 2009). It makes the relations between educators and students less sharp and hierarchical and facilitates mutual desire to understand each other. Transformative pedagogy forms “interdependence of intellectual and social learning” (Glynn, O’Laoire, & Berryman, 2009, p. 9). Additionally, close attention should be paid to the fact that students’ responses should be made in “a challenging but not judgmental manner, to be provocative but not condescending” (Brown, 2004, p. 100).
In application to Asian studies, this strategy is useful for learning the cultural and social life of this region. Students could use this knowledge for reassessment of their views and generation of new understandings. Moreover, studying of uncommon culture, outlooks and traditions enables them to change understanding of the native social and cultural life. Knowledge of Asian countries would broaden personal perspective and lay a foundation for generation of new ideas and visions, which could be further applied in personal and professional life. Students and learners may discuss learned information with each other to enrich each other’s knowledge and understanding of distinct features of Asian culture.
Unlike the strategy discussed above, educational plunges provide greater practical experience. They are directed on providing “learners with an educational experience of cultures different from their own” through activities which would provide greater benefits to them (Brown, 2004, p. 101). Thus, students can decide which activities are more attractive by taking into account personal knowledge, experience, views, and awareness. At the same time, professors also influence the process of selection of the activity. They intend to direct students’ attention on the activities which would help them to move beyond their current level of knowledge while remaining in their personal zone of comfort, thus ensuring effective perception and consideration of experience of the representatives of the Asian culture. These activities can include visits to educational institutions where the Asian culture is represented.
Additional attention should be paid to the major characteristics of the chosen locations. Firstly, the major part of people who are living, studying or working there should represent Asian culture. This experience should be innovative to learners, i.e. they should have never had such experience before. Secondly, the plunge should take sufficient time (not least than one hour). This is necessary for obtaining bright emotions and clear understandings. Lastly, the experience should involve interaction with the representatives of the studied culture.
The experience should be ended by writing of a special reflection paper (Brown, 2004). This work should contain information about the reasons for selection of some particular experience, preliminary assumptions, and emotions before, during and after the experience, learned knowledge, and insights. Additional attention should be devoted to the discussion of the value of the obtained experience for further personal and professional development.
Application of this strategy in the curriculum for studying Asian culture can be performed by visiting various institutions where this culture is present. The examples of these institutions are as follows: Asian cultural centers, places of living of Asians, and specialized Asian educational institutions. Visits to these institutions may last for one day to acquire a deep understanding of this culture and at the same time not to overload these institutions. It is recommended to perform such visits during special Asian holidays for observation of celebrations and obtaining brighter emotions. During such events students may communicate with Asians on different topics. After the completion of visits, students may write special reflection papers about their emotions and insights. The most outstanding and unusual ideas may be discussed in class. During such discussions students and professors may share their ideas, opinions and emotions.
To summarize, the current work provides a description of transformative pedagogy and its application in the curriculum for teaching about Asia. The relevance of the discussed topic lies in the necessity to study the culture of Asian region because of globalization and rapid development of the region. Application of transformative pedagogy is considered to be a rather effective approach because it enables students to obtain new information, critically analyze their current knowledge about this matter, and study the opinions of others. It is based on the active participation of students in the educational process and their free communication with educators. The desire for participation is based on students’ high concern about the studied information as they can choose the topic and method of obtaining knowledge. Transformational pedagogy is oriented on enriching practical experience of individuals by connecting them with Asian culture and providing negotiation with the representatives of this culture. Personal experiences are presented and freely discussed in class with other students and professors. In this process, teachers act as facilitators of the process of formation of new opinions and reassessment of existing ones. They direct students’ efforts and raise their engagement. Successful employment of transformative pedagogy grants significant shifts in the perceptions through communication of intent, obtaining and exploiting opportunities of application of different perspectives, and development of critical thinking. Transformational pedagogy can be realized through reflective analysis of journals and educational plunges.