TEACHING BEYOND THE CONSTRUCTIVIST ZONE
Lee, K., Indiana University, USA/Hong Kong
This presentation attempts to probe into the possibility of a non-Western perspective in theorizing educational practice. Western educational paradigms such as the constructivist agenda has been well received in contemporary educational worlds, both in the West and the East. Yet, beyond the constructivist zone, alternative possibilities do not diminish. This paper serves to seek some novel way to imagine and reconceptualize teaching and learning. In particular, the Zen lens is adopted. In the religious realm, Zen is well known as a form of Buddhism. In this presentation, it is suggested that some of the ideals and beliefs associated with Zen may indeed help to shed new lights on contemporary educational practice. To do so, an attempt is made to juxtapose this non-Western tradition with constructivists' pedagogical beliefs. At the first glance, Zen doctrines seem to contradict every tenet of our contemporary educational ideals, especially those put forth by constructivists. For instance, students are encouraged to take an active role in their constructing their own learning; whereas, Zen appears to value effortlessness over effortful action. While students are expected to strive for success and excellence, Zen stresses on the importance of being non-aggressive. However, such contradictions would not overshadow some potential common ground as well as useful implications that Zen can afford us. A closer inspection would unveil that Zen can lend us useful insights into our practice of teaching and learning.