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Education Bookcast

Aug 6, 2021

This is a continuation of the series on Jin Li's book Cultural Foundations of Learning, East and West. In this episode, we will see the emotional side of learning, with a Western focus on interest, curiosity, and enquiry juxtaposed against an Eastern focus on dedication, conviction, and commitment.

This also leads to a different conceptualisation of time within the sphere of learning, which leads to concepts like success and failure make less sense in a Chinese cultural context. Since the process of learning never ends (or, at least, is considered to be very long), one cannot that one has reached "success" or "failure" at any stage, as things could always get better (through application and virtue) or worse (through becoming slack and irresponsible). Westerners, in contrast, have a much shorter-term and piecemeal view, seeing motivation as dependent on the nature of the material (empirically shown to not be important to Easterners), and viewing learning problems as requiring technical solutions (rather than heart- and character-based solutions proposed by the East). This is also reflected in (Western) psychology research, with emphases on achievement motivation, intrinsic motivation, and self-esteem, none of which have much currency or empirical validity, or for that matter make any sense, in an East Asian context.

Enjoy the episode.