Critical Teaching and Learning Issues in International Education

Critical Teaching and Learning Issues in International Education

Linda Ellington (Palm Beach Atlantic University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-4498-4.ch006
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This chapter focuses on a limited compilation of literature with attention to the issues in critical teaching and learning within the international education milieu. The approach taken in this chapter is that of a conversation with particular interest directed to the question of what might constitute an appropriate teacherly and learner response to challenges they may face in the international educational schema. The chapter not only illustrates the tasks of internationalized education but also contributes to a collective exchange of the complexity of this phenomenon and its threats to teaching and therefore learning in the now. The exponential expansion of new technologies, the inception of an increasingly mobile society, and the marketization of knowledge in Thomas Friedman’s (2007) Flat, the globalized world has fanned the already fiery demands for teaching and learning on the international stage (as cited in Tubbah & Williams, 2010).
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Historical Context

Historically the voices of teachers are ignored in the globalization process because they are seen as just citizens who put into effect what others decide. Teachers are simply civil servants who deliver other people’s mail (Smith, 2000). Therefore, having said that, the emergence of the global network has created a need to study the changing mandates of teaching and learning under the influence of this phenomenon. Smith (2000) posits that throughout all periods of history, education and teaching have had their role to play, as those in power have sought to secure the present into the future through the minds of the young. Globally the old and new orders are dying and rising, coincidentally all the while that there is no one interpretive frame, no common grammar, to hold it all together (Smith, 2000). In the international venue of teaching and learning one might ask if there even needs to be a common frame or grammar. This one simplistic question presents uncertainty and creates tensions for teachers, learners, and educational organizations.

The internationalization of education has roots that extend back to the medieval period in Europe. According to Dolby and Rahman (2008) the best known itinerant scholar was Erasmus of Rotterdam (1465-1536), the philosopher and theologian who lived and worked throughout Europe. Colonialism was also a significant historical factor in the internationalization of education, as the European university model was imposed on colonial subjects in Asia, South America, and Africa beginning in the 18th century (2008).

Between 1884 and 1945, education was chiefly organized for the production of elites at home and abroad, coupled with the training of the masses to serve the machineries of both capital and the state in their particularities of bureaucratic functioning, military development, and technical training (Carnoy, 1974, as cited in Smith, 2000). If the teaching profession was historically the anchor for this type of learning, but is now seen as a capital resource, is education today seen as nothing more than job training? For the sake of argument, we may find ourselves agreeing with Smith (2000) that teachers are finding themselves living in the old and new imaginaries at the same time, and thus a difficult place in which to dwell.

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