Chiu-Yin (Cathy) Wong, Ph.D., associate professor of Professor of Curriculum and Instruction, and Kathryn L. Lubniewski, Ph.D., associate professor of Special Education in the School of Education, recently published an article, “Hong Kong Teacher Perceptions of U.S. Culture and Education: A Case Study to Prepare for a Collaboration,” in New Waves—Educational Research and Development, a refereed scholarly journal published by the Chinese American Educational Research and Development Association.
The authors note that over the last decade, the United States has experienced a drastic increase in the number of individuals with culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. “Because of this,” they argue, “it is more important than ever that teacher preparation programs develop teachers’ global understanding of culture and education.”
In the article, Wong and Lubniewski explore opportunities and obstacles for multicultural collaboration between U.S. teacher candidates and Hong Kong educators in the design of a study abroad course. They also emphasize the critical need for understanding how unintentional biases and stereotypes might negatively influence U.S. teacher candidates’ assumptions of their students with diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds.
Wong and Lubniewski employed an instrumental case study to gain insight into Hong Kong teachers’ perceptions about U.S. culture and education, with a focus on participants from Hong Kong who had never lived or studied in the U.S. “They reported that their perceptions of the U.S. stemmed from what they had heard and seen from the media (e.g., Google search, YouTube videos, movies), their multiple interactions with people from the U.S. (e.g., visitors in Hong Kong), and their exposure and ideas about Western countries in general (e.g., textbooks, experiences shared by friends or family),” the authors noted.
One theme that emerged when discussing Hong Kong teachers’ perceptions about the U.S. was the level of respect between teachers and students in the school or classroom. “The participants agreed that teacher-student relationships should have a level of respect and that a teacher should have his/her own image and authority. However, they also appreciated the friendly relationship that U.S. teachers have with their students. Unlike the teachers in Hong Kong, where teachers are usually strict to represent authority, the participants believe that U.S. teachers tend to respect each child by interacting with them in a friendly manner and designing instruction according to the student’s needs.”
Another finding of the research was that the Hong Kong teachers believed that U.S. education puts an emphasis on allowing students to think critically, thereby discovering rationales behind reasons and reaching their potentials. More broadly, Wong and Lubniewski argue that the findings reveal that Hong Kong teachers’ perceptions about U.S. culture and education are connected to the social constructivist theory, with the implication that “the participants perceived U.S. culture and education as innovative and influential.”