Academics' lecture tour in mainland China a success

17 May 2016

Saville Kushner in China
Top photo: Professor Saville Kushner (centre) and Yanming Ren (in white) in Zhuhai. Bottom photo: Discussing with academic leaders in Zhoukou.

Professor Saville Kushner and doctoral student Yanming Ren, both based in the faculty's School of Critical Studies in Education), recently returned from a highly successful lecture tour in mainland China.

Saville gave a series of lectures and workshops at Zhuhai College and Zhuhai Experimental Middle School, Zhoukou Normal University and the University of Mining and Technology (in Xuzhou). Yanming served as interpreter – both of language and ideas.

The purpose of the tour was to talk about classroom action research, case-based teaching and qualitative enquiry as they related to ongoing initiatives in each of these Chinese institutions:

  • In Zhuhai, an accomplished high school teacher is developing a teaching centre to work on pedagogical development.
  • The university in Zhoukou is redefining its role in terms of service to local industries and communities and is anxious to understand the practical applications of method.
  • At the University of Mining and Technology, one of China’s elite universities, Saville held discussions with leaders of the Faculty of Public Administration about research development and building a research economy, and conducted a workshop on case-based teaching.

In all locations Saville and Yanming found sophisticated audiences, well aware of the challenges of higher education development and the building of research cultures.

"There is a strong sense of readiness to enter in the journey of understanding classroom complexities that we, in the West, have been travelling since the early stimulation of John  Dewey and the the Chicago Laboratory Schools," Saville says.

"Of course, China has its own intellectual traditions, and how our familiar methodologies interact with Confucian and Lao Tzu pedagogical values remains urgently to be explored.

"Yanming is experimenting with a ‘Western’ case study of a Chinese school (replicating Philip Jackson’s landmark study) and she was able to highlight this challenge. A fascinating conversation was kick-started and will be continued."