Posts Tagged ‘Reflection–Module 2’

EDU 6120: Module 2

“Key Idea Identification” Reflection on the EDU 6120 Module 2 Lecture given by Arthur K. Ellis

“The Emergence of Eastern Educational Thought”

While reflecting on this week’s lecture, I realized that am more readily able to recognize elements in our American education system that are similar to that of Eastern thinking.  Another pleasant surprise is my increased personal appreciation for ideas represented in Eastern thought.

Eastern thought places a strong emphasis on the idea of harmony and peace—within each person, between persons, between generations, and strives for a deep sense of order. With regard to education, Eastern thinking highly values and respects the teacher /student relationship—focusing on aspects of learning and wisdom.  Individuals who most profoundly influenced Eastern thinking include; Confucius, Lao-tzu, and Gandhi.

In an article entitled: Confucian thinking in traditional moral education: key ideas and fundamental features”, author, Fengyan states, “Its methods of moral education are diverse, with an emphasis on learning from exemplars, environmental conditions and practice, as well as the cultivation of moral responsibility and social commitment.” (Fengyen, 2004).

“By way of contrast with Confucius’ emphasis on external obligation, and outward behaviors….Lao-tzu stressed the development of the inner life.” (Ellis, 2001). Lao-tzu represents what is known as Taoist thought which is more free flowing, mystical, spontaneous and reflective.

In American education, we see derivations of both Confucian and Taoist thinking in the form of two differing systems referred to as Essentialist and Progressive, respectively. “The essentialist movement, which is a very subject-centered and formal education with testing, textbooks, exams, grades…,”reflects Confucian thought whereas Taoism is seen as more Progressive.

During the early to mid-1900’s, Mohandas Gandhi , whose leadership against colonialism, racism, and violence led to him becoming a leader of both the Indian Education movement and the Indian Independence movement, also contributed significantly to Progressive educational ideas in America. According to the lecture by Ellis, the five basic ideas within the Progressive include; 1) integration of students with the environment, 2) a strong student/teacher relationship, 3) appreciation {of one’s } identity, 4) spiritual development, and 5) learning in the native tongue.

Perhaps an example of Progressivism can be seen in my school district today, which includes two Native American reservations with very strong education centers for each respective tribe.  Together with tribal leaders, our district staff members (at every level) strive to develop partnerships with tribal community members in order to provide support to native students within the various schools, as well as acknowledge and honor resources in the native communities.

Within myself, I often find that my ability to see things from opposing viewpoints often leads to sense of internal conflict–which I have attributed to having strengths in two opposing learning styles such as concrete-sequential and abstract-random. Particularly in the classroom, I can approach problem solving from a very structured, clear-cut “rule” perspective—while other times I take a more intuitive, creative, non-structured approach. This reflection on my own personality causes me to understand Eastern thought in a new way—with more familiarity.


Aoki, K. (2008). Confucius vs. Socrates: The Impact of Educational Traditions of East and West in a Global Age. International Journal of Learning, 14(11), 35-40. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

Ellis, Arthur K. Teaching, Learning, and Assessment Together: The Reflective Classroom. Eye on Education. 2001.

Fengyan, W. (2004). Confucian thinking in traditional moral education: key ideas and fundamental features. Journal of Moral Education, 33(4), 429-447. doi:10.1080/0305724042000327984