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Expert opinion from IOE, UCL's Faculty of Education and Society


Looking and listening in Shanghai: what’s beneath the headlines and slogans?

By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 13 January 2015

Chris Husbands sends a China diary
The trick of optical illusions is that we see what we want to see. Our preconceptions and our prejudices shape the way we process what we observe. As a result, there is nothing, perhaps, more misleading than direct observation. Few preconceptions are really challenged by experience. The Stanford psychologist Leon Festinger famously put it like this: “A man with a conviction is hard to change… Show him facts or figures and he questions your sources. Appeal to logic and he fails to see your point.”
I’m lucky: as a visiting professor at East China Normal University (ECNU), one of Shanghai’s leading universities, I spent some time in an elite upper secondary schools. A publicly funded, newly built school in northern Shanghai, it is, in effect, a selective sixth-form college. In one Science lesson, I saw a teacher in confident command of advanced technology and subject matter, using a well-constructed PowerPoint presentation to offer a technically detailed account of crystalline structures. And I saw 39 passive pupils sitting in rows, not using technology, some of them referring to a (more…)