The Right to Reticence

This article examines Anglo-western assumptions about the role of individual views and voices in constructing knowledge, and how these assumptions can disadvantage students from "Confucian-heritage" cultures whose social values around education and authority constrain their self-expression in western classrooms. Lecturers may mistake their good manners for a lack of critical thinking or originality, and read their suggestive style as a failure to take responsibility for their ideas. A challenge for academic skills specialists promoting inclusive practices is to go beyond helping students to acculturate to local conventions, and help lecturers to recognise the varieties of writing that stem from different kinds of intellectual and social engagement with the world. This article advocates respect for students' reticence, together with explicit discussion of local expectations. It suggests a method by which lecturers, skills specialists and students could identify common goals of writers in different educational traditions, and see how these are achieved in the target discourse.

Publication Source Information
Kate Chanock
Year of publication: 
Title of Journal, Edited book or Conference and Page numbers: 
Teaching in Higher Education 15 (5), 543-552
URL or DOI: 
ISSN 1356-2517; 10.1080/13562517.2010.491907
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