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Towards a New Intercultural Methodology in Response to Teachers’ Challenges from the New Curriculum Innovation in China Open Access


Other title
Curriculum Innovation
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Wu, Wenhua
Supervisor and department
Dunn, William (Secondary Education)
Examining committee member and department
Eppert, Claudia (Secondary Education)
Skogen, Rochelle (Campus Saint-Jean)
Guo, Shibao (Faculty of Education)
Wu, Joe (Elementary Education)
Department of Secondary Education

Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
The new English Curriculum Standard reform in China is based on Western curriculum theories with an emphasis on a student-centered, communication-oriented, and activities-based approach to teaching rather than on the traditional Confucian heritage culture with the emphasis on a teacher-centered, knowledge-oriented, and textbook-based instruction. The ideas underlying the top-down curriculum change represent important cultural shifts from a transmission model of education to an experiential model. These shifts challenge traditional practice with respect to the notion of education, teaching and learning, the role of teachers and learners, and textbooks, and pose drastic changes for teachers. The study adopts the notion of the third space to investigate teachers’ challenges in implementing the new curriculum change. The main focus is on the tension brought about by shifts in the concept of teaching and learning, teachers’ identities and their understandings of their roles as teachers within the new curriculum framework. This is understood within the context of the tension between the planned curriculum and the lived curriculum, as well as the tension between Western curriculum theories and those based on China’s Confucian heritage culture. Drawing on data collected from classroom observations, and in-depth interviews with three teachers, the study reveals the teachers’ adjustments towards the student-centered teaching methods, the communication-oriented textbooks, the democratic relationship between the students and teachers, and the teachers’ new identity. It draws on the third space but also focuses on need for something new that is specific to English language teaching in China. The findings point to the importance of balance between learning that is both active and receptive without being passive. The study suggests the need for an intercultural pedagogy grounded in understandings of Taoist philosophy and yin to counterbalance yang. It discusses teacher identity and undertakes an examination of particular issues related to this new hybrid way. Finally, the study considers resistance and change among curriculum, pedagogy and methodology in order to explore an intercultural dialogue that draws on both Eastern and Western ideas and shows resonances between East and West, rather than seeing them as polar opposites.
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