Responsibility for knowledge generation in Australian and Korean mathematics classrooms
Professor David Clarke (University of Melbourne)
Professor Frederick Leung (University of Hong Kong)
Associate Professor Kyungmee Park (Hongik University, Korea)
The students' role in the generation of knowledge in the classroom is central to the reform agenda in 'Western' mathematics education. Asian education systems traditionally assign this role to the teacher. How do we reconcile Western educational theory with the success of Asian classrooms? In this project, the clichéd 'student-centred' versus 'teacher-centred' dichotomy is reconceptualized in terms of the distribution of responsibility for knowledge generation in the classroom. This analytical framework is applied to well-taught mathematics classrooms in Australia and Korea, connecting classroom practice directly to student learning outcomes in order to identify mutually-informing effective practice within both instructional traditions.
We need to reconcile the apparent differences in instructional practice between well-taught 'Asian' and well-taught 'Western' mathematics classrooms. If this can be achieved then best practice in one tradition can inform best practice in the other. An analytical approach based on the distribution of responsibility for knowledge generation is applied to well-taught classrooms in Australia and Korea in order to accommodate the effective practices of competent teachers in both traditions within the same explanatory framework. Only then will teachers in one tradition have access to effective practice in the other tradition in a form likely to sustain culturally-appropriate adaptation. The benefits to Australian schools will be considerable.