Shanghai Stereotype used to Provoke

The Australian Council for Educational Leaders (ACEL) challenges recent comments by Dr Kevin Donnelly suggesting that Australia should follow the lead of Shanghai and abandon contemporary teaching methods.

Donnelly reports that “the Chinese favor ‘Chalk and Talk’ rather than our misguided move towards more collaborative approaches”

“We do not do the education debate justice by stereotyping.

“We should remember that the population of Shanghai is about the same as Australia and there is a wide range of approaches to teaching and learning in its thousands of schools” said ACEL spokesperson, Professor Emeritus Brian Caldwell.

Professor Caldwell, who recently visited schools in Shanghai, described current policy that allows schools to design about one-third of their curriculum to meet the needs of their students, teachers and community. ‘Visitors to schools will see a balance of direct instruction and inquiry learning’.

Dr Chris Hurst from Curtin University, WA, also challenges Dr Donnelly’s claims that schools in the UK are abandoning contemporary methods and turning to ‘Chalk and Talk’.

“The report quoted by Dr Donnelly is being used to justify a return to traditional and questionable techniques.

“There are many reasons why the Shanghai education System produces outstanding results and ‘Chalk and Talk’ is clearly not among them,” said Dr Hurst.

In his paper, Chalk and Talk is not the answer…in Shanghai, or Australia, or anywhere else, Dr Hurst gives a more measured account of the reports used by Dr Donnelly and refers to further significant literature about success in Shanghai.

Schools in Shanghai see a balance of direct instruction and inquiry learning.

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