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Developing positive teacher pupil relationships in response to current Chinese educational reform : the potential contribution of circle time

By Ling Wu


This mixed design research sought to introduce, conduct and investigate Circle Time as\ud a pedagogical practice for developing an equal and positive teacher-pupil relationship in\ud a Chinese secondary school and as a contribution to current Chinese educational reform.\ud This study started from exploring English secondary students’ experience of and\ud perspectives on Circle Time. Therefore, a Chinese secondary school was chosen as an\ud experimental school to investigate the operation of Circle Time, students’ and teachers’\ud reaction to Circle Time and affective education. The adoption of western pedagogy into\ud Chinese schools resulted in an examination of both the contexts: the practical pedagogy,\ud Circle Time; and the environment, the Chinese secondary school. The first concept was\ud that Circle Time is a tool to be examined as a contribution to students’ personal and\ud interpersonal development. Could Circle Time function in the same way as it does in\ud Western Countries? The second concept was that Circle Time is an intervention, to\ud investigate the issues of teacher-pupil relationships and affective education in the\ud current Chinese educational system.\ud Although this study was not a pure comparative study, the significance of comparing the\ud students’ experience and understanding of Circle Time in both the UK and China firstly\ud provided guidance about the conduct of Circle Time in Chinese school; and also drew a\ud comprehensive picture of how to do Circle Time in Chinese school by comparing\ud students’ views and opinions. For the Chinese school, the comparative results provide an opportunity to examine the pedagogical practice. For the English school, they provide\ud the chance to understand how Circle Time functions in other cultures. However, this\ud study was not just about comparing students’ experience and opinions about Circle Time,\ud but exploring Chinese teachers’ and students’ perceptions and reactions to affective\ud education by investigating their attitudes and experience of participation and reflection\ud on this.\ud The findings showed that Circle Time not only provided an exceptional opportunity in\ud which students could express feelings, release burdens, understand and learn from each\ud other, develop personal and interpersonal skills and potentially raise their self-esteem\ud and achieve emotional competency, but it also created a unique environment in which\ud individuals were respected and encouraged to develop an equal and open relationship\ud among students and between teachers and students. The study also looked at issues\ud that arise for Chinese teachers in transferring their traditional hierarchical role to an\ud equal and democratic teacher-pupil relationship and in adopting a child-centred teaching\ud method to replace or supplement the current examination-orientated teaching. The\ud findings also showed that Chinese teachers are in need of motivation and support in\ud adopting new pedagogy, teaching methods and social economic change

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