This volume is about education and schools, textbooks, and pedagogies in the countries of the Asia-Pacific. The chapters in this volume offer critical and reconceptualist curriculum studies and policy analyses of various national and regional educational systems. All of these systems face significantly complex challenges linked to new social and economic formations, cultural globalization, and emergent regional and international geopolitical instabilities and conflicts. The chapters in this volume offer empirical and theoretical insights on the issues of what counts as official knowledge, text, discourse, and discipline; how they should be shaped; who should shape them; and through which social, cultural, and institutional agencies they should be administered and practiced. There are, of course, various possible approaches to such issues,-which focus on "identity," "hegemony," "nation," "gender," and "culture," no matter how unstable such concepts might be. Until recently, however, educational researchers have drawn principally from two limited approaches in the available literature and texts on the Asia-Pacific. The first approach consists of a general descriptive and comparative discussion of policy, history, and context, often with little specific documentation of the actual politics involved in teaching, learning, curriculum, and pedagogy at macro and/or micro levels. The second approach has tended to present comparative views of "Asia" from the standpoint and perspective of Western and Northern epistemologies and disciplines. Both are, in part, the legacies of comparative education and Western "area studies." Both have their genesis in European and North American university studies of the "Other"-fields that were often supported by Western governments and their surveillance and intelligence arms, churches and religious organizations, and, later, nongovernment development and aid agencies. Much of this work has tended to position countries, systems, and educators of the Asia-Pacific within discourses of aid, "development," poverty amelioration, and, most recently, neoliberal discourses that call for the "modernization" of such systems through marketization, economic rationalization, and new managerial models (see also Stiglitz, 2001). Hence, there has been a de facto relegation of the Asia-Pacific to studies of education in "foreign" context and, however unintentionally, treatment of its communities and systems as exotic or "exceptional" objects within the fields of curriculum studies and educational policy. These approaches have been destabilized, first by successive waves of postcolonial and indigenous epistemology and theory, as well as feminist and women's perspectives, and more recently by varied and complex analyses of the push/pull and local/global dynamics of globalization-with much of the most interesting and innovative cultural studies and social science work coming from scholars in Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Singapore, and Hong Kong. The works contained in this volume present a diverse set of tools from social theory and critical educational studies for addressing a range of pedagogic contexts and curricular practices which many have increasingly found troubling and in need of attention. The chapters in this volume do not fall neatly and tidily into any of the overarching theoretical categories or standpoints (such as "postcolonial," "neo-Marxist," "feminist," "poststructuralist," and "postmodernist") that have become de facto grids for recent Western research on the issues of curriculum and pedagogy. They do, however, address scholarly fields and concerns, as well as developing and ongoing intellectual and political projects, and-as instances of grounded theory-they open up analyses and readings of the world and so make intervention possible. The writings collected here disrupt many popular mythologies about education in Asia and the Pacific. These include base suppositions about the "Other": That Asian pedagogy is exclusively "rote learning"; that educational systems and governments in the Asia-Pacific are faced with classical "developing country" issues; and that institutional and state formation in the Asia-Pacific can be assessed on a North/South, West/East, or left/right continuum as moving inexorably towards neoliberal economic and social policy and Western "democracy" affiliated with the United States and Europe. Further, there is a broader supposition underlying most Western curriculum work: That issues of ideology and curriculum content are principally "developed country" concerns; that Western and Northern concepts and approaches of "multiculturalism," "cultural appropriateness," affirmative action, and so forth can be unproblematically generalized across national and regional contexts; that the educational systems of these countries are either anachronistic colonialist or authoritarian throwbacks; or that the teachers, administrators, scholars, and bureaucrats of the Asia-Pacific are simple ideological "dupes" of national governments, Western graduate schools, and multinational corporations. The pieces in this book create a range of tensions around these circulating myths and stereotypes and attempt to respond to critical questions- some unresolved and some still preliminary. At the same time, we want to live and model the undoing of some truisms that no one has as yet been game enough to speak of: The assumptions that critical, theoretical, and metatheoretical work on teaching and curriculum is done solely in North America, the United Kingdom, and Australia, and that this work is "too hard" or suppressed among scholars and systems in the Asia-Pacific; that emerging scholars coming "out of Asia" are concerned principally with technical issues such as English as a second language and educational administration; and that only work done by sophisticated Western and Northern scholars and researchers can and should count in the critical analysis of education and globalization. If Western/Northern readers are to have an understanding of, and engagement with, the complex push/pull forces of economic and cultural globalization, they must read and act beyond educational and social theorizing that, even where it attempts to be critical, can be celebratory and reinforcing of the power of American and Anglo-European educational economies and research. There is a serious need to move beyond research on globalization that takes for granted the efficacy of the center/periphery, inside/out force that emanates from the North and West. We need to engage with regional, local, and community-specific uptakes and contestations, transformations, and transliterations of the educational discourses and practices that now traverse borders and media (Luke & Luke, 2000).
|Number of pages||10|
|Publication status||Published - 2005|
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Social Sciences(all)