Two researchers from Shandong University in Jinan, China, have looked at how international students in China experience the Confucius-based Chinese educational culture and how that correlates with i.a. their own cultural background. Their article on “Traditional Chinese Views on Education as Perceived by International Students in China: International Student Attitudes and Understandings” in the Journal of Studies in International Education reports on the findings based on a survey among 458 students from 80 countries, 10 of whom were also interviewed.
Confucianism has a strong focus on secular ethics, morality, and the cultivation of a civilized individual who in turn contributes to the establishment of a civilized society. Chinese Confucius based educational culture strongly emphasizes learning through transmission and memorization, with high respect for and deference to the teacher. The study found that most students look favourably at the underlying general concepts and philosophical notions of Confucianism, but less so at the rigorous hierarchical position and role of the teacher.
The study is critical not only because of its findings on the specific case of international students in China, but also and more because it seriously studies cultural and philosophical diversity in an internationalised educational setting without taking the Western approach to higher education as a given.