851 responses to module one: I have read through your profiles with great interest and thought I would share some of them here with everyone. My comments to those questions might help to give us a focus for our coming work. I have de-identified the comments as much as possible. First of all, I am sorry for my late start with the course. I just arrived in Miami after 9 days waiting to be evacuated from Dominica. The evacuation process itself took 3 days from the time we left the island to arriving in Miami at 3 Am on the 28th.
Comment: I have worked in many different countries over the last 20 years and I can certainly understand the issues you face in getting situated in a new country. Between internet connections, phones and rental agreements, it can be quite a chore. You mentioned wanting to understand the relationship between culture and teaching methodologies. Teaching is very much about human interaction and so we will look at how culture impacts on our ability to communicate with each other. We will also consider what might be considered universal truths about interacting with each other. For example, in every culture the teacher is still the teacher and the student is still the student. That ‘power’ relationship does not change.
Comment: You note that people have told you that it may be difficult to move back to Canada the longer you are away. I have been away for more than 20 years and can attest that it could be difficult, however perhaps not for the reasons you may suspect. It is true that Canadian institutions may not value your foreign experience as much as Canadian experience, but I hope that that perception is changing. However, from a personal point of view you also may find it very difficult to go back to Canada after being abroad for many years.
The concept of reverse culture shock is very true yet unexpected by many people. The place you have in your mind is not the place that exists now, and so when you return to Canada to live you may find it to be very different than the place you have been visiting for the last so many years. I can assure you visiting a place and living in that same place are two very different experiences.
Comment: We will investigate the question of how cultural tendencies impact the way students participate in education. I think your question of how could Educators analyze and plan accordingly is very challenging. In my experience, we often do our planning and then help students adapt to the way the course has been structured. The culture within which the institution is set and within which the education is being offered has an overriding influence on the planning and development of any course. We then find that the challenge is in helping students to adapt to the new culture within which they find themselves and to adapt to the varying cultural mores of the students that they are surrounded by.
Comment: It is very interesting to note that the previous student is working in Canada with foreign students whereas as you are Canadian working in a foreign country with local students of that country. So right there, we already have two distinct cultural situations within which we can explore various issues when planning curriculum. It is very interesting to note the cultural background of the teachers with whom you are working at the University. They will become a great source of inspiration for you during this course. Although they are all from Western backgrounds, you may be surprised to see how different their views are on many educational issues. I strongly encourage you to discuss some of the issues we discussed in our course with your colleagues.
Comment: I encourage you and all of your classmates in this course to make every effort to answer the questions posed to you by your classmates. On that note, I encourage all of our students to read my post about commenting on comments. The value of this course mainly lies in exploring the thoughts of our classmates. I hope to contribute to your understanding as the teacher and instructor of this course, however there are far more of you as students than there are of me as a teacher.
Comment: There is a very interesting article by an author called Keltchermans, in which he states that, “it matters who the teacher is”. In your case, it is very interesting to know that you have two different cultures in your home from which to draw and inform your teaching. This most certainly will give you a wider perspective and better understanding of your students. One thing that you may notice about Canada in contrast to many other countries is that the Canadian culture is a ‘multi’ culture. Many countries are quite homogeneous and pride themselves on their “country-ness”, whereas Canadians often pride themselves on their non-Canadian-ness, or their independence. These are very powerful cultural issues that have a great effect on the dynamics of any classroom.
Comment: It is funny to read the interactions between you and _____. The grass is always greener...
Comment: You comment on creative and critical thinking. These are two aspects of education that are often highly controversial. There are countries where critical thinking is frowned upon. This implies that things are not already great. So, one question is, how can we help individuals to think critically, or in other words, think independently, or think for themselves, in a manner that is helpful to their community rather than divisive. Thinking creatively is also often thinking critically, but it may also entail thinking differently. Again, how do we encourage students to do this in a positive and constructive manner? As policy and curriculum designers, how do we design courses that encourage such thinking? Even in a liberal minded culture, there are set ideals that people do not like to question. For example, is a benevolent monarchy (ruling family) such as the UAE better than our western democracies? Look at some of our current leaders... You spark two questions for me. One is rather general. You ask about international education and the connection to culture. I find that with the internationalization of the of the world, we need to be more specific about the notion of culture. For example, we think of China as a monolithic state of 1.4 billion people. But in fact, it is a conglomerate of very different cultures, some of which would not consider themselves 'Chinese'.
On another note, as a science teacher, how would you react to being asked to fit creationism into your course? This is a cultural issue that we might find right in our own backyards. As a Nova Scotian, you might not think this is rational because we have had a strict separation of religion and education since the 1890s, however in other provinces such as Ontario where there is a Catholic school board, how might that fly?