When Only the Anglo West Won’t Do in Education

images-2Recently, I read an article by Walker, A. (2003) “Developing Cross-cultural Perspectives on Education and Community” and what I found fascinating was that much educational research and theories in educational administration are based on Anglo-American culture and don’’t take into consideration that the subject may bring to the “research table” a different culture. How long have I simply accepted that theories were adaptable to cross cultural or universal platforms of education?

It has allowed me to explore the notion that different cultures may have different forms of management,  different forms of learning and different forms of psychology.  And that each culture may eventuate and exist with a different economy or Religion.

What was an awakening statistic was that less that less than 8 per cent of research is on non Anglo-American subjects. That means that over 90 per cent of educational management theories are Anglo American. This is a crazy figure to reflect on. Yet we continue to accept and assure educational managers that there is universal acceptance of the research findings even though ‘Claims to knowledge are made on the basis of limited samples as though they are a universal application”.

One stark example of cultural difference is the educational comparison with western goals to “develop the fullest potential in the individual student ” whereas in East Asia education  has a bigger goal of finding the fullest potential for national development”.

At this point then I question the transferring of values in leadership from one culture to the other and making the assumption that they are relevant or in the best interest of many?? How much knowledge and experience are we ignoring from varied cultures by simply accepting Anglo-American theories as the forerunner for leadership training?

Of course in a place like Australia, with such a high rate of inter-cultural and cross cultural statistics, it would seem logical that a means to accommodate and understand cross cultural issues needs to be addressed as part of the leadership development instead of believing that “worthwhile theory will only flow one way”.

Saying this seems “educationally noble” but it isn’t as easy as it sounds. In a place like Australia, where does the cross cultural management start and in which culture does it finish? When culture consists of so many factors such as values and ideals, and they determine the behaviours that follow from them, and they are to be accepted by such a large group of people, then the expectation to make educational management culturally sound sounds like an exhausting exercise.

Even though modernists suggest that traditional cultural values are on the decline, you have to question the validity of this. If values are formed from “defining moments”, usually in early childhood, then the proposal that traditional cultural values are dwindling suggests that this is a generation or two away. And if that is the case, why are these cultural values still existent at all?


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