Post #9 Reflective Blog

Here comes to the end of this module, and it was a great experience to have blog writing as the entire module assessment. The thing that I love the most about blog writing is the autonomy I am given in learning, which is the freedom of thinking. I had been a lost kid for the past years, and this aroused my interest to psychology when I started to crave for an understanding of myself.

Lets have a brief speech on my context: I was born in a family with middle socio-economic status, and my parents are used to being very protective. Though I have three half elder brothers, they do not really influence my child development since they did not stay in the same country as I did. To simplify, I was brought up like the typical own child in a normal Asian family. Aside from siblings, the family value that my parents transmitted to me is that learning is very important, however, I was not intrinsically or extrinsically motivated to study until 19 years old, why?

Recalling my first year, blog assessments also occupied a certain percentage in Research Skill I module. I was not quite as appreciative with this assessment at the time and felt like it was meaningless, “why do we have to choose our own topics and write about it? just give me a specific topic, so I don’t have to do any research.” Throughout these two years of study, I finally started to think about my future path and become more conscious about finding my own advantages and disadvantages. Obviously, I am the type of person who is not great at examination, to be honest I have only achieved A grades in exams twice; and I was not doing great on writing papers neither, just getting a B or B+ if I got lucky. It sounds miserable, and I am determined that boosting up my writing skills will be my first step out. Therefore this blog assessment became a reason for me to apply for Science of Education module at the beginning as to accomplish my goal.

While I start to put my effort in this module, I also applied my passions in it gradually. This helps me to enhance the intrinsic motivation in learning through discovering the underlying reasons why I disengaged in learning across primary school and secondary school, because I am allowed to select the topics I am most interested in. First thing first, I can explain my nonconformity to my family value by the demanding restriction from my parents. In my 6th post, it is suggested that the different perspectives from children should be viewed as the establishment of self-identity instead of impassive conformity of the family values; whereas my father used an extreme way in educating me, that he told me “your friends would never play with you in future if you screwed up in your study”, and I was only 9-years-old. Can this 9-year-old understand this assumption? Besides, my dad also applied Operant Conditioning to teach me, an easy way to explain this is that achieving high scores in dictations, he would reward me with a toy or even money; in contrast, he would take away my toy when I got low scores. As a result, I did not indulge myself in learning, and ended up lying about the results, which made things even worse. Nevertheless, I realise that my father is a good father, who was a chemist and spent 5-10 years in the laboratory. He might get too used to doing experiments (which made me an experiment to him too lol).

Apart from my family values, I experienced bullying in secondary school, and I believed this event actually had a great influence on my academic study. However, I did not select bullying as my blog topics (what a shame!), but instead I have looked through the moral education where I wish that I can help make changes in the system one day. Through reading Vera’s blogs, it also gives me new insights on bullying and have a better understanding of the past self, as well as how it built up to this new self.

No doubt that this module brings me happiness, but there are still concerns while writing blogs. The concern has been discussed heatedly in Hannah’s blog, yes, it is grading. In the first two weeks, I was surprised that I did quite a good job, and hoped to keep the grade up by thinking about how to praise our module organizer, Jesse. This was not a good sign when I had this thought, since enjoying the process is usually the most important thing in learning. It went worse when the grades diminished, and my 3rd post has mentioned that positive beliefs (view the task as challenge) can help in improving performance, whereby my grades became stable.

To round up, thank you Jesse for providing us a chance to express or explore ourselves in learning. I am looking forward to see blog assessments being used in other modules!

Post #8 Synthesis: Walk Away from Historical Thoughts and Re-think about Confucius

The previous misunderstandings of the cultural difference between my city (Hong Kong) and the fellow-citizens (Mainland China) brought some of us to the hatred to them; however, after understanding diverse viewpoints, I started to alter my halted into curiosity and determined to find the causes and solutions to the education development in China. To start with, I acknowledged the most obvious problems, corruption and economic inequality. Afterwards, I narrowed down the problems to their politics on population control (One Child Policy), as well as other crime commitments among the entire country. This discussion leaded me to think educating moral reasoning as a solution to those problems, and in the recent two blogs, I have tried to identify the role of family and school to moral development and suggested teaching strategies.

A brief summary of the social problems that potentially hinder the China education development is:

  • The uncontrollable condition of corruption in China reflects individuals having low sense of the integrity of society and obey to the corruptive officers and employers;
  • The impassive help in emergent situations can be explained by the frequent fraud commitments in public;
  • There was a sole focus on politics in moral education during Cultural Reform in China, implying that what the politicians say is justice;
  • Economic Inequality can only be reduced through increasing salary, but instead of improving the average education level; it builds up an unhealthy atmosphere for study and leaves the Chinese government a good question to sort out;

Concluding the above problems, they are mainly attributed to moral deficiency (point 1-2) and conformity (point 1 & 3) as the underlying reasons. It is a fail not to mention the impact of the former chairman of China, Mao Zedong, and his Cultural Reform (1966-1976) to the society in my previous blogs, because the post-Mao thoughts have been implanted solidly in individuals who are estimated to be the parents or elderly in relation with our generation.

As mentioned above, Mao has reformed the teaching curriculum in moral education into solely politics, educating the youths that his values were the right conducts. It is unnecessary to understand every piece of details in his policies, but an article from The Guardian can demonstrate enough evidences of his ambition and moral deficiency (Branigan, 2013). This news article reported that during cultural reform, a 16-years-old adolescent was taught with Mao’s values, and he then denounced his mother for criticizing Mao. As a result, his mother was beat and bounded, finally shot to death. Approximately a million people died from Mao’s period making this same mistake. Besides, Mao disapproved the traditional Confucian teaching, which aroused my interest to research in relation to this theory.

Apparently Confucianism is said to be the biggest influence to the Chinese education system in some webpages, so as Adrian who previously did this module (Adrianyktan, 2012). The society changes across time, so are the concepts of Confucianism applicable within the current system? Liu, Meng and Wang (2013) examined the acceptance towards Confucian values in Taiwan and China respectively; revealing their findings, the Chinese participants are now less likely to accept Confucian values in comparison with Taiwanese participants. This can be explained by the denouncement of Confucian teaching during Cultural Reform in China, which inhibited individuals to be exposed to a Confucius prime. In general, those Chinese participants were inclined to an increased risk-affection and impatience, as well as a decreased loss-averse.

The following is the solutions that I have suggested for a change in China education:

  • Openness to opinions is important to build up a deep bounding between parents and children;
  • Disagreement in moral views should be tolerant as to experience diversity;
  • Satisfying students’ affective needs leads to the success in moral education;
  • A change in the assessment of moral education is needed.

Aside from Confucianism, the application of its rival theory Mohism has not been discussed actively. Therefore it is worthy to mention Mohism and its teaching theory to see if it can fit in the current moral education system. Further investigation should be done to see the association.

References:

  1. Adrianyktan, (2012). Asian Education Myth5: Confused by Confucius. Retrieved from: http://adrianyktan.wordpress.com/2012/03/22/asian-educationsa-myth5-confused-by-confucius/
  2. Liu, E. M., Meng, J., & Wang, J. T. (2013). Confucianism and Preferences: Evidence from Lab Experiments in Taiwan and China. Retrieved from: http://www.uh.edu/econpapers/RePEc/hou/wpaper/2013-199-49.pdf
  3. Branigan, T., (2013). China’s Cultural Revolution: son’s guilt over the mother he sent to her death. Retrieved from: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/mar/27/china-cultural-revolution-sons-guilt-zhang-hongping

Post #7 The Establishment of an Ideal Educational Community: Embedding Moral Education into School

Last week, I acknowledged the responsibility of parents in the moral development, and made three suggestions for parents to better educate moral reasoning. Fundamentally however, it is notable that not every pair of parents has a proper understanding of right conducts themselves, and the composition of moral education is complex which requires other parties, such as school and religion to be involved (Oladipo, 2009). This got me thinking: what is the importance of moral education in school and how to implement it consummately?

McCambridge (2004) proposed moral education, critical thinking and imagination (creativity) as the determinants of an ideal educational community. He believed that moral education not only restricts individuals to inhibit crime commitments, that individuals being truthful are also necessary to the accretion of science, to admit the misrepresentation of evidence and re-investigate with a real passion. Besides, an understanding to respect others helps promoting a healthy mental status and reduces social problems; in other words, such respect preclude bullying, deceiving and various issues caused from irreverence to life (McCambridge, 2004; Oladipo, 2009).

Since the importance of critical thinking is evidential in academic and life success (Butler, 2012), starting to establish a deeper form of thinking at a younger age would increase the likelihood of success; whereas moral education can be viewed as an aid in fostering it. Currently, there is a low opportunity for students to develop critical thinking skills under the teaching curriculum of formal education, because its main aim (i.e. Chinese, English, Mathematics, and History) is to provide a wide fact sheet on basic knowledge as to build up a solid foundation for higher education.

Reminiscing the Chinese Literature, I found myself incompetent to remember or apply any knowledge I learnt from the lessons; laughably the mere ancient language I recall is “bird” in Cantonese because it was used as a swearword in the old times.”

Nevertheless, an appropriate assessment in moral education provides opportunities to practice critical thinking skills as it requires more flexibility and individuality while understanding and accepting different transmitted values (family and public) of right conducts. Any Evidences?

Before suggesting a change on moral education, it is central to point out the problems in the current teaching curriculum. A study in Jiangxi (a province of China) indicated that school moral education has two main problems: examination-based assessment and content-based teaching strategy (Liang, n.d.). The way the moral education is taught generally reflects the perceived educational objectives by educators, which is indoctrination, without any attempts to increase engagement in learning. The heavy examination-based evaluations also influence the teachers’ priority of thinking in education, since their main concern is to ensure students achieving a good grade in the examination and conform to the expectation of top management and parents (Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, 2000).

It is important for teachers to meet students’ affective needs for successful moral reasoning to occur (Power, 2007), because moral education requires students not only to have a high comprehension of knowledge but as well as acceptance to others’ moral value. Suggestions that I would make for improving teacher quality are:

  1. Understand the multi-roles of teacher – Alter their viewpoint on the single role of teacher as being an instructor but as well as a co-learner with their students, mostly because students can be active creators of knowledge (i.e. technology use) that teachers never know (Holbrook et al, 2012). In such way, this new role facilitates teachers to enhance self-competency when they seek challenges in co-learning with students (Fischer & Rustemeyer, 2007), and also promote their intrinsic motivation (Bieg, Backes & Mittag, 2011).
  2. Learn the psychological knowledge base – Help them to understand the mental and physical characteristics and study status of students, to increase the sensitivity to students’ need; arranging psychological experts to give lectures for teachers.
  3. Update the notions of moral education – A regular update (i.e. 1-2 years period) of notions in moral education is necessary, since the ideal right conducts in each society change across time and politic consideration (Dorn, 2012).  For example, corporal punishment is prevalent during kindergarten and primary school (Kilimci, 2009) whereas it is given that school corporal punishment is not likely to enhance moral character or awareness of respect (Society for Adolescent Medicine, 2003). Therefore, it is pivotal to prohibit wrong notions from happening and research into alternatives for change (National Association of School Psychologists, 2006).

The use of imagination is deemed to foster both moral education and critical thinking (McCambridge, 2004), where it has affinity with the theory of creativity although the definition of creativity varies. While imagination refers to “the ability to conceive of that which is not” (McCambridge, 2004, p.15), creativity generally means the creation of new ideas from existing concepts (Ray, 2005). Therefore, some policies that I suggest for modifying teaching strategies or curriculum of moral education would try to comprehend the application of creativity into it:

  1. Increase the openness to change – Emerging research in relation to the moral education system from different regions would help to acknowledge their success, identify the existing problems and adapt to a modified system. Aside from this, enriching knowledge from different aspects or cultures can improve educators’ creativity because mental jumping requires the access to abundant information (Strong, n.d.).  Kiva anti-bully program from Finland education would be a good example to learn from.
  2. Stimulate the use of “psychological distance” questions in group discussion – Discussing problem solutions in group provides opportunities for students to access a greater understanding of their peers. The use of psychological distance (Construal-level Theory) is suggested to induce creativity by generating solutions to problems attributing in a long distance or future time to the individual (Kruglanski & Higgins, 2007; Trope, 2010). In other words, the logic force is more likely to detach under those conditions. Some online sources give many interesting sample moral questions (Get to Know U, n.d.); as an example “Would you volunteer to be one of the first colonists on Mars if it meant you could never return to earth?” (related to long distance). Aside from psychological distance, I would suggest to ask more realistic questions such as the here and now in the updated news, so students can apply their moral values practically.
  3. Utilize computer-mediated learning tools as alternative assessment of examination –Sidek and Yunus (2012) indicated that blog has become the most popular among all online tools (i.e. Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, Weibo) to be implemented in classroom. This blog assessment is also found to promote learning autonomy, critical and reflective thinking skills (Yang, 2009). This makes blogging suitable to start in secondary school as young adolescents are more inclined to be concerned with social relationship and seek for peer acceptance in order to fit in groups (Almas, 2009), which actually happened to me when I was a high schooler. Allowing students to explore learning through blogging can also provide teachers a great insight into their diverse opinions and experiences, as well as enhancing teachers’ critical thinking (Deng & Yuen, 2011). Personally, I think its implication can extend to help teachers who have a good psychological base to identify bullies and/or victims among students through reading their blog entries and comments.
  4. Co-operations between schools (as stimulation of a real community) – It is acknowledged that in China, economic inequality is a serious concern (my week 4 blog), individuals from rural areas and cities (different fabrics of society) are not likely to have clear understanding of the similarities and differences of their fellow-citizens due to the “Hukou” household registration system (Afridi, Li & Ren, 2012). I would say that promoting short-term exchange programs (i.e. for one semester) between schools in different regions allow students and educators to experience domestic diversity (especially differences in socio-economic status and education level) and support the integrity of the society (Castania, 1996).

References:

  1. Afridi, F., Li, S. X. & Ren, Y. (2012). Social Identity and Inequality: The Impact of China’s Hukou System. Retrieved from: http://ftp.iza.org/dp6417.pdf.
  2. Almas, A. N. (2009). Adolescents’ Disclosure and Advice-seeking Behavior about Peer Dilemmas: Characteristics, Maternal Parenting Predictors, and Adolescent Social Outcomes. Doctor Thesis: University of Toronto.
  3. Bieg, S., Backes, S. & Mittag, W. (2011). The role of intrinsic motivation for teaching, teachers’ care and autonomy support in students’ self-determined motivation. Journal for Educational Research Online, 3(1), 122-140.
  4. Butler, H. A. (2012). Halpern Critical Thinking Assessment Predicts Real-World Outcomes of Critical Thinking. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 26, 721-729.
  5. Castania, K. (1996). Diversity Fact Sheet #1: What is Diversity?. New York: Cornell University. Retrieved from: http://counties.cce.cornell.edu/chemung/general/publications/what-is-diversity.pdf
  6. Deng, L., & Yuen, A. H. K. (2011). Towards a framework for educational affordances of blogs. Computers & Education, 56(2), 441-451.
  7. Dorn, J. A. (2012). The Rise of Government and the Decline of Morality. Retrieved from: http://www.cato.org/sites/cato.org/files/pubs/pdf/cl-12.pdf
  8. Get To Know U. (n.d.). Life Lessons (30 Moral Quandaries). Retrieved from: http://www.gettoknowu.com/LifeLessons/Hypothetical_Moral_Quandaries.php
  9. Holbrook, T., May, L., Albers, P., Dooley, C. & Flint, A. S. (2012). Teachers as Co-Learners in the Digital Age. Language Arts, 89(4), 219-221.
  10. Kilimci, S. (2009). Teachers’ Perceptions on Corporal Punishment as a Method of Discipline in Elementary Schools. The Journal of International Social Research, 2(8), 242-251.
  11. Kruglanski, A. W. & Higgins, E. T. (2007). Social Psychology Handbook of Basic Principle. New York, U.S.A.: Guilford.
  12. Liang, M. (n.d.). Problems, Causes and Solutions in a School Moral Education Course – Research in a School in Jiangxi. Retrieved from: http://www.ioe.ac.uk/about/documents/About_Overview/Mingyue_L.pdf
  13. McCambridge, T. R. (2004). Imagination, Critical Thinking, and Moral Education as Essential Elements of an Educational Community. Retrieved from: http://www.ierg.net/confs/2004/Proceedings/McCambridge_Thomas.pdf
  14. National Association of School Psychologists. (2006). Position Statement: Corporal punishment. Bethesda, MD: Author.
  15. Oladipo, S. E. (2009). Moral Education of the Child: Whose Responsibility? Journal of Social Science, 20(2), 149-156.
  16. Power, F. C. (2007). Moral Education. U.S.A.: Greenwood Publishing Group.
  17. Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) (2000). Curriculum guidance for the foundation stage, QCA/DfEE.
  18. Ray, K. (2005). What is Creativity?. Retrieved from: http://www.nyu.edu/cas/ewp/raycreativity05.pdf
  19. Sidek, E. A. R. & Yunus, M. M. (2012). Students’ Experiences on Using Blog as Learning Journals. Social and Behavioral Sciences, 67, 135-143.
  20. Society for Adolescent Medicine, Ad Hoc Corporal Punishment Committee (2003). Corporal punishment in schools: Position Paper of the Society for Adolescent Medicine. Journal of Adolescent Health, 32, 385–393.
  21. Strong, A. B. (n.d.). How Do You Think – Creative or Logical. Retrieved from: http://strong.groups.et.byu.net/pages/articles/articles/creativity.pdf
  22. Trope, Y. (2010). Construal-Level Theory of Psychological Distance. Psychological Review, 117(2), 440-463.
  23. Yang, S. H. (2009). Using Blogs to Enhance Critical Reflection and Community of Practice. Proceedings Ascilite Melbourne 2008: Full Paper. Educational Technology & Society, 12(2), 11-21.
  24. Yannuar, N. (2010). Exploring Learners’ Autonomous Abilities in Blogs Designed for Independent Learning. Malaysian Journal of ELT, Research ISSN: 1511-8002.

Post #6 Promoting Moral Education: The Need for Diverse Experiences in Families

Moral is referred to the right conduct in relations with families and fellow-citizens, as well as the entire human race. With the perfect ideals of what is morally right and wrong, our society usually provides us a constant references or examples to support those conducts. It implies that each society set up for itself a different definition of moral respectively (Oladipo, 2009). In other word, the Chinese society defines the right conducts in their distinct set of standard, where the determination of conduct can be reflected in the teaching content of moral education.

During the Cultural Revolution in 1966-1976, the teaching content of moral education was solely on politics, and did it imply that the moral view of politicians were right? Nowadays, its content covers a wider variety of other terms ranging from communist ideology, politics, law, and morality to mental health (Xiaoman, & Cilin, 2004). Assuming that you are a child, and you are told to have moral education (the above topics), and there will be examination as assessment; it sounds like it is another typical boring lesson, and they will never perceive those topics as relevant to themselves.

In young children, the approach used by parents or caregivers are usually the most influential on children’s internalization of moral reasoning, and a closer relationship between the child and the parents generates a more productive environment to receive information relative to the moral issue (Oladipo, 2009).

Halstead (1999) indicated that parents implant their own particular family beliefs into children at a young age, and it commonly helps children to develop as a fair and trustworthy person before applying these family-based principles in the larger social context. Yet the diversity in family beliefs may arouse problems while children start to practically implement the moral conduct that was transmitted by their families. An example of this would be that in teaching children how to manage violent events, some parents may guide the children, “If someone hurts you, you should hurt them back to show that you are strong”, while other parents teach them to stay calm and ask for help instead of retaliating.

A commonly held belief is that the success of moral reasoning is originated by the value transmission from parents to their children. Therefore, families are usually being blamed when there is a moral decline reported in society (Halstead, 1999). However, Barni, Ranieri, Scabini and Rosnati (2011) questioned the willingness of children to accept the family values, and examined the effect of value transmission from parents to young adolescents. They found that young adolescents generally have a moderate level of acceptance to their perceived family values, indicating that to some extent, they agree and disagree with their perceived family values when compared to their personal values. Is it entirely a bad thing when adolescents reject to accept the family values?

Disagreement in family values can be seen as the involvement in exploring and developing their independent identity. Parents should not consider the differences in perceived family values as impassive conformity of their adolescent children, who disobey their wishes and expectation. Instead, providing the youths a freedom of thinking would help them establish a better process of comprehension, sharing and internalization to what is morally right and wrong.

I would like to suggest parents a few strategies in educating their children about morality:

  1. Engage actively in conversation with young children in order to understand what they encounter at school, as well as their diverse opinions on the happening;
  2. Provide opportunities and supports for children or young adolescents to express their point of view when teaching them the right conducts based on family values, as to increase their willingness of expressing themselves and establish a high level of bounding with children;
  3. Select topics from everyday news (i.e. moral deficiency news in my week 5 blog), and discuss with children or young adolescents openly, without providing an exact answer of right conducts; it will help them to generate an independent identity, understand the similarities and differences between fellow-citizens and the world, as well as reducing social problems.

References:

  1. Barni, D., Ranieri, S., Scabini, E., & Rosnati, R. (2011). Value transmission in the family: do adolescents accept the values their parents want to transmit?. Journal of Moral Education, 40(1), 105-121.
  2. Halstead, J. M. (1999). Moral Education in Family Life: The Effects of Diversity. Journal of Moral Education, 28(3), 265-281.
  3. Oladipo, S. E. (2009). Moral Education of the Child: Whose Responsibility? Journal of Social Science, 20(2), 149-156.
  4. Xiaoman, Z. & Cilin, L. (2004). Teacher training for moral education in China. Journal of Moral Education, 33(4), 481-494.

Post #5 Identifying Obstables in Education Development: Abandoned Children and Moral Deficiency

A success in traditional education may lead to a secure life, with great wealth and a high socio-economic status; fundamentally however, when people cannot understand the underlying meaning of knowledge, it is nearly impossible to achieve the happiness and the freedom of thinking. Understanding moral could help individuals to make the right decisions with a rational thinking, and reduce corruption activities, as well as improve education and economic equality (regarding week 4 blog). This week, I would like to have a brief view on two narrow social issues in China, abandoned children and moral deficiency, and how psychology can aid to explain these behaviors.

One Child Policy: Abandoned Children and the Only Child

While the One Child Policy (OCP) in China has a positive effect on the population control, there are an increasing number of unwanted children reported in China (BBC, 2001), where girls were more likely to be abandoned (Banister, 2004). The environmental perspective of this issue would be that the government sets up a monetary penalty for the birth of each additional child, and it concerns the families with poor financial condition. Those families who have strong gender bias or a disabled child may end up abandoning their children in order to avoid the violation of law and reduce financial problems (Croll, 2002). Nevertheless, it is also essential to understand the psychological explanation accounted for the child abandonment, that why do Chinese families prefer male more than female?

The understanding of Chinese traditional beliefs would provide a general explanation of all this happening, that males are viewed as more valuable and have higher power position relative to females in employment and business (BBC, 2001; Qiao & Suchindran, 2003; Banister, 2004). A psychological concept of Sexism is applicable within this context, that individuals hold prejudice and discrimination against others based on their gender (Deaux & LaFrance, 1998). An example of this would be that Chinese citizens usually think that males are more capable to earn money and support aged parents. Besides, Banister (2004) also reported that this imbalanced sex ratio does not only exist in rural cities, but also in urban cities of China.

Child abandonment is a serious concern aroused by One Child Policy that causes lifelong psychological problems to the abandoned children, and also influences their brain and physical health (Nelson, 2005). There are different contexts of child abandonment, as mentioned above that could be reasoned by the desire of a health child, a male child, or financial problem. Usually abandoned children are brought up in orphanages where they cannot receive enough individual attention for a proper development. Burnstein (1981) proposed a psychological perspective to understand more about abandoned children. Therefore, it was reported that these children are characterised as hyper-sensitive and insecure, and usually this personality is a permanent state.

An emerging body of research consistently reported that child with siblings is more advantageous in comparison with the only child in the childhood development in general. This can be associated with the problems that the children who were born under One Child Policy may have. The latest study from Cameron et al (2013) showed that in China, children growing under OCP are more likely to have higher degree of confidence, with greater sense of security. Yet there is a big disadvantage of this policy, that children do not trust others and are less trustworthy. Carmeron and his colleagues (2013) showed this by having the children participate a trust game and as a result, the children were less likely to give away to others. In term of psychology, this finding of trust reflects the deficiency of Altruism in this generation, in which altruism is defined as a helping behavior specifically when individuals are willing to benefit another individual rather than themselves regardless the cost and personal gain (Baston, 1991). Altruism has a universal value that it improves the happiness, helpfulness and cooperativeness among communities, and therefore enhances creative thinking.

In addition to the downsides of One Child Policy, children are attributed to lower degree of competitiveness, and also higher degree of Risk-averseness and Pessimism. This suggested that individuals with high defensive pessimism would be more likely to be Self-handicapping and have higher likelihood of suicide (Martin et al, 2003; Chang et al, 2013); whereas individuals with high risk-averseness tend to be not creative (Byron, 2009). Besides, Cameron et al (2013) conducted a personality test based on the Big Five Personality Inventory on this group of children, and they found that the children tend to be more Neurotic and less Conscientious.

The Guilt of Fraud: Increased Moral Deficiency and the Understanding to the Problem

Apart from the One Child Policy issue, a serious concern of moral deficiency is aroused in the Chinese community. Lee (2011) from China Hush, reported a news about a two-years-old child being hit by two cars and eighteen people passed by the child with apparent unconcern. This got me thinking: where is the social justice? The hidden story is that some individuals continuously commit fraud through asking for public help in the recent decades. An example of this would be that the criminals pretend to be injured on the street, in order to dissimulate their intentions; when a person stops by to help, they would then claim being hurt by that person and demand compensation. So who wants to be deceived?

When every individual has a fear of being deceived, it increases the effect of bystander effect. Bystander effect refers to the idea that individuals are less likely to help others in emergency situation (Latane & Darley, 1968). The state of apathy in helping others can be explained by social psychological theories: Diffusion of Responsibility, Audience Inhibition and Social Influence (Informational Social Influence). Diffusion of responsibility occurs when individuals assume that the presences of others would allow them to transfer the responsibility and feel less personally responsible to respond to events, where the helpfulness of individuals lowers when each additional individual presents (Latane & Darley, 1968), which can implicitly relate another theory of Social Loafing.

The application of audience inhibition and social influence may provide the most appropriate explanation on the above China news incident. According to Hogg and Vaughan (2008), audience inhibition refers to the presences of others that would emphasize the self-awareness of individuals about an intended action, and individuals attempt to avoid ridicule by acting socially appropriate; whereas informational social influence occurs when individuals require information from another as confirmation of a situation in order to conform. In the context of China news, individuals were uncertain of the ambiguousness of situation (a fraud or a real accident) and they observed that the other individuals also do not react to the incident; therefore the eighteen individuals passed by the injured child assuming that it was a fraud, and did not want to appear foolish by overreacting.

It is possible for a positive relationship between the commitment of fraud and the moral deficiency within the Chinese community. With the purpose of teaching moral education, solving the fraud crimes is a necessary step. In one of the earliest studies, Cressey (1953) proposed a psychological perspective of fraud which involves the process of Rationalization as to reduce the criminal’s inhibition. Usually criminals commit fraud by establishing rational circumstances (excuses) and minimize the perception of guilt or morality from the act. An example of this rationalized fraud would be the victims participating willingly and intentionally into an illegal act (i.e. corruption), and the fraudsters assume that those victims are culpable. Duffield and Grabosky (2001) attempted to give another aspect of the motivation in committing fraud: financial strain. While it is believed that financial strain only relates to economic inequality (poverty), individuals living in a life of affluences can also feel economically deprived when compared to their perceived standard. Therefore, it arouses a concern that individuals may commit fraud and other corruption activities, with the intention of reducing their loss in power and money.

Conclusion

To summarise, the underlying problems of abandoned children and moral deficiency leads to a deeper understanding of the Chinese community. While every policy has its cost-benefit calculation, the implementation of One Child Policy brings along a better source allocation and population control; whereas it also facilitates the problem of abandoned children and has negative impact on the development of the only child. Besides, the growing number of fraud generates a fear of being deceived and increases moral deficiency among the Chinese citizens, which possibly leads them to a wrong judgment of what is morally right or wrong, building up an unhealthy conscience. With the psychological explanations of these social problems, it helps researcher to demonstrate a more elaborate method in designing the teaching curriculum for moral education.

References

  1. Banister, J. (2004). Shortage of Girls in China Today. Journal of Population Research, 21(1), 19-45.
  2. BBC, (2001). China’s unwanted girls. Retrieved from: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/1506469.stm
  3. Burnstein, M. H., (1981). Child Abandonment: Historical, Sociological and Psychological Perspectives. Child Psychiatry and Human Development, 11(4), 213-221.
  4. Byron, K. (2009). The creative researcher: tools and techniques to unleash your creativity. Retrieved from: http://www.vitae.ac.uk/CMS/files/upload/The_creative_researcher_Dec09.pdf
  5. Cameron, L., Erkal, N., Gangadharan, L., & Meng, X.  (2013). Little Emperors: Behavioral Impacts of China’s One-Child Policy. Science, 339, 953-957.
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Post #4 Identifying Obstacles in Education Development: Government Corruption and Economic Inequality

In the coming four weeks, I will focus my topic to conduct an in-depth research on how to better educate Chinese citizens. In my context, I am from Hong Kong, a city of China; therefore I should understand the Chinese culture right? Here is the issue, Hong Kong was once dominated by Great Britain for 99 years, which meant most of our system is based on Great Britain, and this diverse multi-culture has a unique impact on my belief and experience. There are substantial differences in thinking between Hong Kong and Mainland China people, and I crave to know the fundamental reasons as part of my research.

The final purpose of education is to lead people to life success and happiness, and acquiring a higher education would allow them to have a freedom of thinking critically and creatively. However, before educating citizens to a higher education level, it is critical to understand the dynamics of the community and their social problems, and solve the root of those problems. A serious need of reducing economic inequality and corruption has been observed in China for decades; however, it requires the identification of determinants to these issues in order to generate solutions.

Corruption: The Collapse of Community and the Underlying Theories

Corruption arouses a serious social concern in China, and mostly because their distribution of social goods are made under political considerations and processes (Yolles, 2009). Therefore, its influence is evidential in many aspects of life, from environment, economic growth, and health care to education. According to Pie (2007), the estimated amount of Chinese government capital being misused on corruption was $86 Billion, and it exceeded the entire expenditure on education in 2006 in China. Furthermore, corruption extends to their education sector, that the statistical figures reported and quality of research conducted by the highly esteemed university in China was falsified with a high rate of plagiarism; this trend suggests that corruption is also underlying in the academic departments (Jiaxue, 2010).

In a theoretical perspective of corruption, the causes can be explained by using three levels of corruption depth: individual, organizational and societal levels (Graaf, 2007). Firstly, public choice theory is applicable to the level of the individual, that it attributes individuals to corruption because the estimation of one’s own benefits outweighs the costs. A following suggestion is to influence the calculations between cost and benefit, and gives the corruptive individuals an illusion of growing costs by increasing the penalty of getting caught (Anechiarico & Jacobs, 1996). Secondly, organisational culture theory shows that “a certain group culture leads to a certain mental state”.  This theory suggests that influencing the culture of an organization is crucial in order to control corruption. An example of this would be changing the leadership (Kaptein & Wempe, 2002); when the top management of an organization is corruptive, it increases the risks to generate more corruption activities by individuals who have business contact with the organization. Lastly, ethos of public administration theory is believed to be responsible for the societal level. This theory proposes the source of corruption is based on certain norms and values of societies which have a direct impact on the norms and values of citizens. The solution to this corruption is ethical education and involves amendments on the codes of conduct (Kaptein & Wempe, 2002).

Conformity provides a social psychological insight to explain why corruption is hard to change, in which government plays a key role. An example took place in Hong Kong that the Chinese government attempted to enact “Hong Kong Basic Law Article 23” that arouses our concern of restricted speech freedom in 2002. The fear of being illegal to express our thinking on the political decision can make citizens conform to the government; and when corruption is conducted by officials, how should we act?

Solution to Reduce Corruption: Anti-Corruption Education and a Future View

A generally held belief on the solution of corruption is that development of education and literacy rate would lead to less corruption, that is shown in a study of the U.S., where the negative relationship between education and corruption was reported (Glaeser & Saks, 2006). However, Dong and Torgler (2010) indicated that in China, education is positively associated with corruption, and this implied that educating individuals to have an abundant knowledge of the world would only lead to corruption. If this is a genuine truth, a re-investigation of their current education system must take place to understand where it takes roots. It is possible for parents, teachers and teaching curriculum to lead the education road to a wrong trajectory. An example of this would be a missing element in the traditional teaching content (i.e. moral education), or an inappropriate teaching content that reduces citizens’ sense of what damage corruption would do to themselves and their community.

It was in 2007 that the very first time Chinese government aroused their sense of anti-corruption, and promoted an anti-corruption game “Incorruptible Fighter” from a governmental game designer, aiming to highlight its problems and increase awareness of adolescents and young adults on this issue (BBC, 2007). The media massively criticized the moral rights of the game for “killing for justice” before it could successfully educate them about anti-corruption. Another issue with this game was its untimely launch date, as this game would be futile until the government officials are educated on anti-corruption. Launching a game would be a good method to educate the new generations about anti-corruption and moral education if the game is well-designed.

The new president of China, Xi Jinping, recently launched an anti-corruption campaign (BBC, 2013), and committed to increase the trade transparency and change the law restriction (The Guardian, 2013). The commitment from Xi provides new hope of reformation to the Chinese citizens. However, the most easily associated problem of this anti-corruption campaign is that how can we guarantee that its supervisor is unbiased?

The body of research on the causes of corruption is growing vastly; nevertheless there are no absolute solutions applicable to all context of corruption, because theories generally have different focuses (i.e. levels of corruption, and implicit or explicit causal models). More genuinely, the mix of corruption control changes over time that any suggestions on solving corruption at a time may no longer be effective in a five years’ time (Anechiarico & Jacobs, 1996).

Economic Inequality: The Source of Education Inequality

It is not wrong by saying that every dot is connected, and a butterfly effect exists between factors. Whilst corruption causes economic inequality in urban and rural areas, economic inequality leads to education inequality (You, 2005; Zhou & Qin, 2012). In the recent empirical research, there is a controversy on whether economic inequality has a causal relationship with education inequality, or an interaction with education equality.

Yue and Liu (2007) argued that lower income inequality provides greater educational opportunities to citizens, and therefore reduce the education inequality in the urban cities of China. They demonstrated that the growing distribution of income inequality was attributed to the groups with lower socio-economic status, whereby those individuals are more likely to have lower education level and less work experiences averagely in comparison with other groups. Additionally, the gap of income within a group is considerable smaller when they have a higher average education, and it implied that the improvement of general education in urban cities will bring better economic equality; but have we underestimated the complexity of this issue?

Yang, Huang and Li (2009) conducted a similar research as Yue and Liu’s, but their investigation extended from urban people to rural people in China. They also consistently reported that reducing income inequality will lead to a significant decrease in education inequality. Fundamentally however, they found that the improvement of educational inequality does not reduce the economic inequality in short-term, as well as long-term from their prediction. This finding can be explained by the current economic condition in Chinese labor force market, that the supply is more than the demand which leads to a worse income inequality than before. It is obvious that an emergent need to increasing the job opportunities can solve the immediate problem caused by income inequality. Despite this, the finding also has another serious implication: since an education could not help in getting a better job, will people start thinking that education has no future? This leads to a lack of motivation of understanding new information and a more discordant atmosphere in the society.

Who wants to live under poverty? If people achieve a higher education, but they end up being worried about living and a load of stress; there is no way for them to gain happiness in their life. Tell me, how can they indulge themselves in the world of knowledge?

Brief suggestions are that Chinese government should put more effort to the unbalanced economic development, whilst considering educational investment and economic policy; in order to reduce the economic inequality among provinces.

References:

  1. Anechiarico, F., & Jacobs J. (1996). The Pursuit of Absolute Integrity. How Corruption Control Makes Government Ineffective, The University of Chicago Press: Chicago.
  2. BBC, (2007). China Enjoys Anti-Corruption Game. Retrieved from: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/6928279.stm
  3. BBC, (2013). How Real is China’s Anti-corruption Campaign?. Retrieved from: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-china-23945616
  4. Jiaxue, G. (2010). Academic Corruption Undermining Higher Education: Yau Shing-Tung. Retrieved from: http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/hkedition/2010-06/02/content_9919871.htm
  5. Dong, B. & Torgler, B. (2010). The Causes of Corruption: Evidences from China. Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei Working Paper, 461, 1-36. Retrieved from: http://www.crema-research.ch/papers/2010-07.pdf
  6. Glaeser, E. L., & Saks, R. E. (2006). Corruption in America. Journal of Public Economics, 90, 1053-1072.
  7. Graaf, G. (2007). Causes of Corruption: Towards a Contextual Theory of Corruption. Public Administration Quarterly, 31, 1-39. Retrieved from: http://unpan1.un.org/intradoc/groups/public/documents/un-dpadm/unpan049603.pdf
  8. Kaptein, M., & Wempe, J. (2002). The Balanced Company: A Theory of Corporate Integrity. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  9. Pei, M. (2007). Corruption Threatens China’s Future. Retrieved from: http://carnegieendowment.org/files/pb55_pei_china_corruption_final.pdf
  10. The Guardian, (2013). China anti-corruption crackdown targets Nanjing mayor. Retrieved from: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/oct/17/china-corruption-crackdown-nanjing-mayor
  11. Yang, J., Huang, X. & Li, X., (2009). Educational inequality and income inequality: An empirical study on China. Frontiers of Education in China, 4(3), 413-434.
  12. Yolles, M. (2009). A social psychological basis of corruption and sociopathology. Journal of Organisational Change, 22(6), 691-731.
  13. You, J.-S. (2005a), “A comparative case study of corruption in South Korea, relative to Taiwan and the Philippines: focusing on the role of land reform and industrial policy”, PhD thesis, JOCM22,6730 Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, Chapter IV, available at: ksghome.harvard.edu/youjong/Ch%204%20Corruption%20in%20Korea.doc
  14. Yue, C. & Liu, Y. (2007). Impact of education on the income of different social groups. Frontiers of Education in China, 2(2), 191-200.

Post #3 Developing Stress Into Positive Belief: Improving School Outcomes

I feel stressful since the start of this new semester, likely because it is my final year and all my hopes in getting a good degree are based on my performance this year. I find it difficult to sleep at night; and my organs suddenly feel like under heavy pressure; my mom tells me that you have to learn to relieve your stress otherwise you will develop cancer in the future. In the end I am trying to convince myself that as long as I put in enough effort on my study, everything will go smoothly. So why am I still feeling so worried?

If you don't like something change it if you can't change it change your attitude

Innovative Viewpoints from New Science of Stress

Earlier this year, McGonigal (2013) gave a very inspiring speech on “How to make stress your friend”, which allow psychologists to re-investigate the positive aspects that stress can bring to individuals. Initial evidences was provided by Keller et al (2012), who conducted an experiment in order to assess whether the perception of stress and the degree of stress suffering would affect individuals’ health. Their finding indicated that there is an interaction between the degree of stress and the perceived stress against health, and reported statistically that participants who experienced a high degree of stress and also believed that stress had a negative impact on their health were more likely to have a 43% increased risk of premature death. According to the above research, there would be an estimate of over 20,000 deaths caused by stress beliefs in America. So why keep telling people that stress is bad for their health?

Kelly-McGonigal

The emerging body of research indicates that cognitive reappraisal is the most frequently reported biological factor to explain how the perceived stress against health can actually affect individuals’ physical health.  Cognitive reappraisal refers to an emotion regulation strategy that requires the redirecting of the emotional or affective response by redefining the way individuals perceive a stimulus (Buhle et al, 2013).

To link cognitive reappraisal with stress and health, Blascovich and Mendes (2010) proposed a theoretical explanation of the shaping of stress responses that activation of stress is caused with different antecedent appraisal processes (personal interpretation of a situation) while individuals facing challenge or threat. In regard to physical health, challenge causes the improved cardiac efficiency and expansion of the peripheral vasculature, whereas threat reduces the cardiac efficiency and constricts the vasculature in anticipation of damage or defeat. This explanation implied that the activation of stress during approach-motivated challenges is more likely to improve the human hearts state of health as well as the performance.

The Altering Perspective of Academic Stress: Improving School Outcomes

The evidential findings from the above research point out a potential cue between the perceived stress (challenge or threat), and academic performance. A certain number of research have drawn on negative effect of stress to academic performance, (i.e. increased test anxiety), fundamentally however, only a very minority of researchers attempt to investigate the positive perspective of academic stress, which can positively associate with many school outcomes.

A commonly held belief of academic stress suggests that learners dealing with higher degree of stress are inclined to achieve lower average scores across the whole year, but actually Kumari and Gartia (2012) found that learners as high academic achievers are more likely to receive higher degree of stress, when compared to learners who are not; it was in line with Bankston and Zhou’s study (2002). Another interesting study from Malaysia implemented different stress factors to examine the perceived stress (i.e. nutrition, problems with partner or roommate, class attendance, sleeping too much or too less, social activities, finances, heavy workloads), and demonstrated that most learners perceived a moderate degree of stress throughout the whole semester, and surprisingly that these factors did not influence their academic achievement (Rafidah et al, 2009).

According to Rothman (1995), a possible explanation for academic stress from learners with high achievements is that they struggle to maintain their position that will allow them to enroll at highly esteemed colleges. Is it possible that maybe these learners manage to perceive their stress as a challenge rather than a threat? The findings of Rafidah et al (2009) implied this possibility, because their participants reached the expected academic performances (over 66 percent scoring GPA 3.00/4.00; 24 percent scoring GPA 3.50/4.00), at the meanwhile that they did not perceive stress as a major problem against their studies. In the implication of Kumari and Gartia’s study (2012), they also suggested that educators should reinforce this positive relationship between academic stress and academic performance towards students, teachers and parents respectively.

Personal Reflective Questions

It is compulsory to educate learners on what they need to learn in order to think creatively and critically, nevertheless, learning how to jump out from their frame of the world could help them be well-prepared for the real world and become significant individuals. An example of this would be that individuals cannot learn just from theoretically how to love others, unless they have experienced the feeling of being loved by their parents, relatives, friends, or even pets. The similarity of managing stress to learning to love is that learners must experience that emotional state in order to understand it. Some learners may not experience stress throughout their academic life, nevertheless, it is impossible to precisely know that they will not face any stress in the coming future (i.e. during work). School is the safest environmental setting for learners to express the questions and find the answers with sources and guides; therefore educators should do the best to embrace them. Is this what education is for?

1234880_642968445726168_93237401_nFor some learners, they may not experience any stresses in the academic life. However, their nightmare start right after their education…

Recent literature reviews judged on the educational assessment being massively dependent on standardised examination, that how it can relate to test anxiety and the problems caused by test anxiety (i.e. increased heart rate, less social behaviors) (Cassady & Johnson, 2002; Cassady, 2004). In regard to this concern, a reduced use of standardised examination as teaching assessment should be considered. According to my week one blog, I have mentioned how this standardisation system hinders the creativity in education, nevertheless I cannot deny that educators may have their own concern that prevent them to implement new assessments in the education system. Their concern can possibly be political issues, which means that they conform to the expectation of government? It is most likely because government funds the public school, and it can be understood that educators do not want the school to be shut down. So I make my point that it may require years of psychological battle between educators and politicians to reduce standardised examination and implement other assessments such as oral speech, blog and assignments. However, learners under the current education system continue to undergo the stress from standardised examination. Before there is a change, is it possible to use the new perspective of stress to help them?

Using Self-efficacy To Improve Positive Stress

Self-efficacy is a psychological concept that maybe a third factor to mediate the relation between challenge and threat (academic stress). According to Bandura (1997), self-efficacy refers to “the perceived self-efficacy as personal judgments of one’s capabilities to organize and execute courses of action to attain designated goals, and he sought to assess its level, generality, and strength across activities and contexts”. As previously mentioned in the model of stress response (Blascovich & Mendes, 2010), individuals perceive stress as either challenge or threat, and Chemer, Hu, & Garcia (2001) showed that individuals with high degree of self-efficacy are more likely to believe their working competence and evaluate a difficult task or situation as a challenge. There are also studies pointed out the moderate to strong negative relationship between self-efficacy and perceived stress towards academic achievement consistently (Torres & Solberg, 2001; Zajacova, Lynch & Espenshade, 2005). More interestingly, Zajacova found that academic self-efficacy accounted for a larger responsibility for the school outcome, when compared to academic stress; because stress has a negative but weak relationship with academic performance. Therefore maybe the self-efficacy based interventions can help to change stress into positive belief most efficiently?

Conclusion

An increasing number of research found that changing the attitude towards stress can promote heath; additionally this discovery has a serious implication on the self-management of academic stress. The current evidences are not convincing enough for educators to implement this new perspective of stress to aid learners in the education system, and obviously further investigation is needed. Personally, I would say the best way to change negative stress to positive stress is to compare your present self only to your past self. No matter what the result is, success or failure, you have gained benefits from the process because what you learn is experience which provides you a new perspective.

P.S. Here is a verbal presentation of this article:

References:

  1. Bandura, A. (1977). Self-efficacy: Toward a unifying theory of behavior change. Psychological Review, 84, 191-215.
  2. Blascovich, J., & Mendes, W. B. (2010). Social psychophysiology and embodiment. In S. T. Fiske & D. T. Gilbert (Ed.), The handbook of social psychology (5th ed., pp. 194-227). New York: Wiley.
  3. Buhle, J. T., Silvers, J. A., Wager, T. D., Lopez, R., Onyemekwu, C., Kober, H., Weber, J. & Ochsner, K. N. (2013). Cognitive reappraisal of emotion: A meta-analysis of human nueroimaging studies. Cerebral Cortex. Advance online publication.
  4. Cassady, J. C., (2004). The influence of cognitive test anxiety across the learning-testing cycle. Learning and Instruction, 14, 6, 569-592.
  5. Cassady, J. C., & Johnson, R. E. (2002). Cognitive test anxiety and academic performance. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 27, 270–295.
  6. Chemers, M. M., Hu, L.-T., and Garcia, B. F. (2001). Academic self-efficacy and first-year college student performance and adjustment. Journal of Educational Psychology, 93(1), 55–64.
  7. Keller, A., Litzelman, K., Wisk, L. E., Maddox, T., Cheng, E. R., Creswell, P. D., & Witt, W. P. (2012). Does the perception that stress affects health matter? The association with health and mortality. Health Psychol, 31(5), 677-684.
  8. Kumari, R. & Gartia, R. (2012). Relationship between Stress and Academic Achievement of Senior Secondary School Students. Asian Journal of Multidimensional Research, 1(3), 152-160.
  9. McGonigal, K. (2013). How to Make Stress Your Friend. Retrieved from http://www.ted.com/talks/kelly_mcgonigal_how_to_make_stress_your_friend.html
  10. Rafidah, K., Azizah, A., Norzaidi, M. D., Chong, S. C., Salwani, M. I. & Noraini, I. (2009). The Impact of Perceived Stress and Stress Factors on Academic Performance of Pre-Diploma Science Students: A Malaysian Study. International Journal of Scientific Research in Education, 2(1), 13-26.
  11. Rothman, R. (1995). Measuring Up: Standards, Assessments, and School Reform. San Fransico, USA: Jossey-Bass.
  12. Zajacova, A., Lynch, S. M. & Espenshade, T. J., (2005). Self-efficacy, Stress, and Academic Success in College. Research in Higher Education,46(6), 677-706.