A post-positivist way of seeing within a positivist paradigm: The possibility of reinventing teacher leadership in the discourse of 'Liberal Studies' in Hong Kong

Wai Yan TANG

Research output: Contribution to conferencePapers

Abstract

'Liberal Studies' has been fervently promoted as an initiative aiming at redeeming the quality of education in Hong Kong for the past year. This paper is the result of a critical analysis of its discursive formation process and particularly explores how teachers' role has been defined. An extensive study based on government documents and media both printed and electronic will be conducted and analyzed. It is observed as revealed by the current discourse that the role of teachers has been shaped within a positivist paradigm, which conceptualizes knowledge construction and the notion of teaching and learning within an input-process-output model. Consequently, teachers only serve to implement what has been passed down, a role likening to a technician meant not for provoking thought. It is argued that the capacity of leading thought provoking dialogue, which a technician is by nature not able to accomplish, is the fundamental prerequisite for teachers who are entrusted to teach the subject of 'Liberal Studies'. This paper argues that the notion of 'Liberal Studies' has to be re-conceptualized within the post-positivist paradigm which considers knowledge as something that emerges inter-subjectively. It entails that the encounter between teachers and students plays a pivotal role in co-constructing the world. Knowledge constructed in such a way implies the importance of what Gadamer has coined the 'fusion of horizons', based on which Mikhail Bakhtin's and Martin Buber's dialogism will be used under the umbrella term 'dialogic hermeneutics' to assert that the key of cultivating the spirit of 'liberal studies' in our students is an ethical rather than a technical issue. In short, in response to the positivist's deficiency in shedding light on how 'Liberal Studies' should be oriented, a post-positivist way of thinking is proposed and is regarded more illuminating in terms of its emphasis on divergent thinking, which celebrates dialogue - the breeding ground for liberal inquiry, rather than merely convergent thinking, which tends to reach a closure in a monologic way. The former encourages the development of teacher leadership while the latter heads towards an opposite direction.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2006

Citation

Tang, W.-Y. (2006, November). A post-positivist way of seeing within a positivist paradigm: The possibility of reinventing teacher leadership in the discourse of 'Liberal Studies' in Hong Kong. Paper presented at the Asia-Pacific Educational Research Association (APERA) International Conference 2006: Educational Research, Policy and Practice in an Era of Globalization, The Hong Kong Institute of Education, China.

Keywords

  • Secondary Education
  • Educational Policy and Management

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