‘Highest good is like water. Because water excels in benefitting the myriad creatures without contending with them and settles where none would like to be, it comes close to the way…’ (Lau 2001, Lao Tzu , Book 1, VIII, p.11)
This picture is of lotus plants in a central lake on the Sun Yat-sen University Zhuhai campus China that was poisoned and barren 6 months previously…it’s now a beautiful water garden. The flower appears to be holding up a leaf, which acts as an umbrella, protected and protective. Both are mutually supportive; just as teachers and students are interdependent, supporting each other, learning and teaching.
I am a gardener. I like to get my hands dirty and create gardens, with earth and water, sunlight, nature, love and constant vigilance. I am glad to know that in China teachers are regarded as ‘diligent gardeners …caring, self-sacrificing, moral-modelling, and deserving of high-respect ‘and students are the fruits of their labour’ (Hui 2005, p.27).
As a teacher, I aim to ‘lead (students) to the threshold of (their) own mind’, (Gibran 1923, p.99) to encourage them to be curious, adventurous, to explore and to experiment, to question and to apply their skills in a meaningful and relevant way (see Booth and Kennedy nd) and within ethical frameworks.
LEARNING & TEACHING CONTEXT
I have experience as a teacher in private and state institutions of higher education and Sino-British joint ventures in China since 2000, in Australian and German tertiary education and business experience in human resource management. I teach in the ‘fuzzy’ social science arenas of management, organizational behaviour, tourism and events management as well as writing skills for tourism, hospitality and events. I am a practical academic, with experience in leading teaching teams, influencing processes and assuring quality; developing study materials and learning activities, guiding work-based reflective practice for Masters level students, supporting student-led community consultancy projects on tourism development; and co-ordinating individual work-integrated learning projects. With a Graduate Certificate in University Learning and Teaching that deepened my own reflective practice, I am confident to develop and shape effective teaching strategies that include supporting students and colleagues to engage more actively with technology, learning in and from the field, and deepening their own reflective practice (Schön 1983).
My current role is to prepare undergraduate (Bachelor) Chinese students for future study in Australia. The challenge is to shift students from rote learning to reflective learning, active engagement and participation and to challenge assumptions, to ask questions, to know how to read difficult texts and the environment, and how to find appropriate references. Integrating influences of Socratic dialogue with ancient Chinese philosophy of Confucius, Lao Tze and Buddhism, as well as modern greats like Schön (1983) and Harvey (1978), I encourage students and colleagues towards independent and creative learning and to discover new questions. Classes are modified according to qualitative feedback from the students. The learning outcomes of my students are framed explicitly and aligned with assessment and learning activities as recommended by Biggs and Tang (2011). With freedom to ‘play’ and ‘push’ boundaries, results of students are outstanding.
LEARNING AND TEACHING IN PRACTICE
MYTH-BUSTING: ENCOURAGING ACTIVE, ENGAGED STUDENTS
There are many examples of excellence to dispel the myth of the ‘passive, dull, unimaginative’ Chinese student, including the winner of a provincial English speaking contest. Li Fang went on to win a national competition and a scholarship to complete her M. Phil. Linguistics in Cambridge. She is about to complete her PhD at Peking University and translated a bilingual children’s book Shanghai Mouse that I authored in 2010. In 2008, I edited and published an anthology of student writing: ‘Willow and Bamboo: Inside China by Henan students’ (Barnaby James, Sydney). This book showcases the students’ clear and evocative writing that documents social changes in their lifetimes.
In 2009, I led 60 events management students from Shanghai to study at the University of Huddersfield in Yorkshire for nine weeks, and in 2014 I led 19 tourism management students on a two week field trip to Singapore, Bali and Lombok. In both cases, students were transformed and brimming with new found confidence from finding their way around places in a foreign language, undertaking focused research and reflecting on their achievements both as travelers, students and potential managers of tourism, hospitality and events.
My five primary values of freedom; autonomy; independence; integrity; and wisdom, developed as a young HRM practitioner and deepened by reading and support from guides and mentors along the way, are integrated in the goal of supporting individuals and groups towards personal and professional growth, meaningful and sustainable livelihoods (see also Booth and Kennedy, nd.). When I see outcomes that result from an integrated approach based on my quintessential values, I am in my ‘element’ (Robinson 2009). Enabling students to blossom and supporting teaching colleagues to develop effective strategies for student engagement and high achievement so that we all flourish is the meaningful livelihood I have been nurturing, and plan to continue to do so, wherever it will lead me.
LIST OF REFERENCES
Biggs, J and Tang, C 2011, Teaching for quality learning at university, McGraw Hill and Open University Press, Maidenhead.
Booth, C and Kennedy, B, nd. ‘Are academics teachers or learners? The new academic as a learner not teacher’, RMIT, www.doc88.com/p-1703926753274 (viewed 17 September 2014)
Chism, N 1998, ‘Developing a philosophy of teaching statement’, in KH Gillespie (ed.) Essays on teaching excellence: toward the best in the Academy (1997-98) POD Network: A publication of the Professional and Organizational Development Network in Higher Education.
Fallon, F 2010, Shanghai Mouse, trans. Li Fang; illus. Mat Terrett, Barnaby James, Wynyard, Tas.
Fallon, F (ed.) 2008, Willow and bamboo: inside China by Henan students, Barnaby James, Sydney.
Gibran, K 1923 The Prophet and the art of peace, New illustrated edition, Duncan Baird Publishers, London.
Harvey, JB 1978, ‘Learning to not teach’, The Organizational Behaviour Learning Journal, vol. 111, no. 3, pp.11-17, George Washington University.
Hui Leng 2005, ‘Chinese cultural schema of education: implications for communication between Chinese students and Australian educators’, Issues in Educational Research, vol.15, no. 1, pp. 17-36.
Lau, D. (2001 translator). Tao te ching: A bilingual edition. (The way of Tao; sometimes known as ‘The book of five thousand characters’), Chinese University Press, Hong Kong.
Robinson, K 2009, The element: how finding your passion changes everything (with Lou Arona), Viking, New York.
Schön, D 1983, The reflective practitioner: how professionals think in practice. Basic Books, New York.
How to design learning tasks that foster deep learning and student engagement?
This has been my challenge in teaching, especially Organisational Behaviour (OB), which I have taught in private and public universities, and joint-ventures in China since 2000, and in Australia and Germany. Like Kennedy (2002), I have been determined to disprove the stereotype of the ‘passive’ Chinese student. In much team work, students just do ‘piece-work’, and focus on doing a task minimally. But, if we aim for graduates who are passionate, creative thinkers, truly collaborative and responsible, underpinned with professional and technical know-how, how can we encourage deeper interaction and reflection in the class-room setting?
I use one exemplar task that just seems to work every time, for every class. It’s called the circle cutting task.
All the class is involved; how many scissors are required? One per team.
Complexity- With one pair of scissors and one A4 sheet of paper, cut to make the largest possible circle without any breaks or joins (see Alan Chapman’s businessballs.com). Time: 15 minutes.
Coherence- The observers make sense of the action and different approaches: activists jump right in and everyone wants to hold the scissors; reflectors are slower and quieter in their approach; theorists practise first; pragmatists wait for the opportunity to find the most efficient solution.
Charlesworth (2008) shows that after a period of time in higher education, Chinese and Indonesian become more active learners. Biggs (2012) guides us into thinking more precisely about what we want our students to do and how to align assessment with learning outcomes and graduate attributes. Thomas Edison (Caldicott, 2013), Harvey (1979); Schön (1983) and Mary Follett (1924) are still relevant for today, cheering us on to be more confident, creative and continually adapting to student needs and our mutual desire for engagement… and leading them towards the graduate attributes required for the 21st century.
This exercise is part of a six week collaborative learning project which concludes with
a team presentation and report on the application of an OB theory in the workplace
and includes reflections of the team process, with a focus on communication, team
roles, strengths, shared values.
Supports Kennedy (2002) that Chinese students are active, demonstrate a diversity of learning styles, attitudes and strengths. Given encouragement and clear learning objectives, Chinese students are engaged and engaging; respectful and playful; keen to try; and able to reflect deeply on the meaning of the exercise. They demand more action and engagement (Fallon, 2014).
1. Model the behaviour you want your students to have
2.Introduce experiential learning exercises that get students up out of their seat and interacting with each other
3.Step back and watch the learning in process.
I have used this ‘ice-breaker’ circle puzzle several times, adapted from Alan Chapman’s businessballs.com. I first ask students to analyse their learning styles and create teams based on this; sometimes mixed, sometimes the same style for clear ‘ah ha!’ moments. Thank you to SYSU School of Tourism Management students!
Biggs, J. (2012). What the student does: teaching for enhanced learning. Higher Education Research & Development, 31 (1), 39-55.
Caldicott, S.M. (2013). Midnight lunch: the 4 phases of team collaboration processes from Thomas Edison's lab. New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons.
Charlesworth, Z.M. (2008). Learning styles across cultures: suggestions for educators. Education & Training, 50 (2), 115-127.
Fallon, F. (2014)., Mapping graduate attributes and outcomes for events management students in Shanghai and Guangzhou: what can we learn? Paper presented at SYSU Events management conference, Guangzhou 12-13 July.
Follett, M.P. (1924). Creative experience. New York: Longmans, Green and Co.
Harvey, J. (1979). Learning not to teach. Journal of Management Education; 4:19-21.
Honey, P. (n.d). The Learning Styles Questionnaire www. peterhoney.com
Kennedy, P. (2002). Learning cultures and learning styles: Myth-understandings about adult Chinese learners, in Cribbin, J & Kennedy, P (eds.) Lifelong learning in action. HK University Press, pp.71-92.
Schön, D. (1983). The reflective practitioner: How professionals think in practice. New York: Basic Books.
POSTER PRESENTED HERDSA CONFERENCE HONG KONG JULY 2014
Students from China’s top School of Tourism Management, Sun Yat-sen University, Zhuhai campus, Guangdong have just returned from a field study trip to Singapore, Bali and Lombok island. The 19 students were led by Dr Fleur Fallon, and Dr Zhao Ying. Dr Fallon has been to Lombok many times and in 2002, completed her doctoral thesis on “Tourism interrupted: the challenge of sustainability for Lombok island 1987-2001” with the University of New England, Australia.
In 2013, more than 387,000 mainland Chinese arrived in Bali, making the Chinese market the second largest in Bali, after Australia. More Chinese are starting to make the journey to Lombok, and the students will act as honorary ambassadors for Nusa Tenggara Barat tourism.
Crossing the Lombok Straits by fast boat from Bali, some students then adventured by local pirahu to Gili Meno and Gili Air to snorkel for the first time and see the colourful fish, while others explored the local beaches, restaurants and Art Market at Senggigi.
Meeting the vice-governor of Nusa Tenggara Barat (NTB) Pak H. Muh. Amin, tourism officials and local students from the University of Mataram , eating and singing at a local taliwang restaurant for the mid-Autumn Festival were highlights. There was one last adventure, visiting pottery and weaving villages and the pure beach at Mawun in the south, before flying out from the new airport.
The student leader Zou Zhijian (Justin) said, “We love the unique architecture, the harmony between Hindu religion and daily life in Bali. We love the natural beaches and relaxed pace of as well as the attractive city sights, museums and events of Singapore.”
“ We can recommend Singapore and Bali as a holiday destination for families and couples. Lombok is for the more adventurous seeking close contact with nature in the sea and in the mountains. For the vision of MICE island development, we would like to see more attention paid to infrastructure –roads, footpaths, plastic waste management, traffic management and more signage, brochures and menus in Chinese in Indonesia.”
“We are the internet generation, so WIFI connectivity is important for us, and therefore up-to-date and easy to find information on the internet is critical for Chinese destination decision-making – for business, education or for leisure. We also welcome Indonesian students to China to learn more about our language and culture.”
“For some of us, this was the first time to go overseas. Each destination we visited has its special attractions. Next year we will study in Angers, France. We will remember to be ambassadors for tourism to Singapore, and to Indonesia, especially Bali and Lombok islands. We also hope the promotion of the 200th anniversary of the eruption of Mount Tambora in Sumbawa will attract not only Jackie Chan, the official ambassador for Chinese tourism to Indonesia, but also many more Chinese with a deep passion and respect for exploring nature- both the mountains and the sea of Nusa Tenggara Barat –‘indah sekali’”
The story was published in The Lombok Guide (Issue 178, 13 October 2014).
You can view the story online here:
The story is also available in the online digital newspaper, here (click on the page to expand):
See also stm.sysu.edu.cn/en/news/8952.htm
As a gentle provocateur of positive change,