The learning experience and navigation of successful Chinese College English students in China and Australia--developing a conceptual framework of ideals of democracy and social justice for global high education: Dewey and Confucius

Year: 2019


Type of paper: Abstract refereed

This project aims to explore the experiences of Chinese College English students who are learning in Australia and how they navigate their studies successfully in these two countries. It is worth noting that these successful Chinese learners of College English could be considered as adopting a mixture of educational practices from China and Australia. This group of students have experienced Chinese educational practices through College English learning in China. They have also negotiated learning experiences of their post-graduate education in Australia. By examining Chinese students’ learning experiences in both China and Australia, this study provides insights into the ways that higher education is mediated and negotiated with different socio-political ideologies. In this paper, I will illustrate Chinese students’ navigations by their understandings of democracy and social justice.

This study compares the educational ideals between John Dewey and Confucius on how social justice and democracy are achieved through the means of education. Dewey (2004) stressed that the fundamental purpose of education is not only to acquire disciplinary knowledge but also to cultivate the democratic way of living. For Confucius, the ideal society is a harmonious and peaceful society that is compatible with self-cultivated humanity (Confucius & Ku 2017). In this paper, I will place Dewey and Confucius in dialogue with Chinese learners and explore how these two theorists’ ideals of social justice and democracy contribute and challenge modern high education that is neo-liberal oriented. Also, the dialogue between Dewey and Confucius gives rise to a synthesised conceptual framework in relation to democratic ideals. Learning experiences of successful Chinese college English students are thus used to testify the proposed conceptual framework. Finally, an argument will be offered for the investigation of a profoundly democratic hypothesis as a framework for global higher education.