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Confucian heritage culture learner’s phenomenon: from “exploring the middle zone” to “constructing a bridge”

Abstract

In the past decades, the CHC (Confucian heritage culture) learner’s phenomenon has spawned one of the most fruitful fields in educational research. Despite the impression that CHC learners are brought up in an environment not conducive to learning, their academic performances have been excelling their Western counterparts (Fan et al. in How Chinese learn mathematics: perspectives from insiders, 2004). Numerous explanations were offered to reveal the paradox (Morrison in Educ J, 2006), and there were challenges of whether there is “over-Confucianisation” in all these discussions (Chang in J Psychol Chin Soc, 2000; Wong and Wong in Asian Psychol, 2002). It has been suggested that the East and the West should come and discuss at the “middle zone” so that one can get the best from the two worlds. On the other hand, at the turn of the new millennium, discussions on mathematics curriculum reform proliferate in many places. One of the foci of the debate is the basic skills—higher-order thinking “dichotomy”. Viewing from the perspective of the process of mathematisation, teaching mathematics is more than striking a balance between the two, but to bridge basic skills to higher-order thinking competences. Such an attempt was explored in recent years and the ideas behind will be shared in this paper.

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Notes

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    Designed by X. Sun, Y. Wang, and A. M. Y. Chan respectively.

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Acknowledgments

I wish to pay tribute to my Ph.D. thesis supervisor, Dr. David Watkins, for initiating me into the fruitful research field of the CHC learner’s phenomenon. Thanks are also due to the editor and the reviewers for their valuable comments. I would like to thank the Modern Educational Research Society for their financial support too.

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Correspondence to Ngai-Ying Wong.

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Wong, NY. Confucian heritage culture learner’s phenomenon: from “exploring the middle zone” to “constructing a bridge”. ZDM Mathematics Education 40, 973–981 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11858-008-0140-x

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Keywords

  • Confucian heritage culture
  • Basic skills
  • Higher-order thinking
  • Pedagogy of variation
  • Bianshi teaching