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Western theories: Influence on and relevance to teacher education and educational research practices at the Institute of Education, Singapore
Issue Date: 
Singapore Journal of Education, 11(1), 19-28
A survey of a sample of teacher educators, most of whom received postgraduate training in Western
countries, was conducted in order to ascertain the extent to which Western theories are adopted or adapted in teacher education and educational research practices at the Institute of Education.

Theories were found to exert a considerable influence, especially in educational research.
However, the conception of theories ranged from being rather vague or nebulous to more precise or scientific paradigms for explaining phenomena and predicting behaviour.

By and large, Western theories were perceivedas acceptable, with some modifications, especially
in adjusting to Eastern culture and theSingaporean context. Two major differences
between Western theories and Eastern thoughts were highlighted: (a) humility in learning from
the teahcer as a respected authority is a virtue in the East and (b) there is a general preference for
a more holistic and integrative approach to knowledge, rather than the compartmentalised and analytical approach often evident in Western theories.

Three main factors which are likely to affect the adoption or adaptation of Western theories
were identified: '(a) "pragmatism" in accepting whatever works, together with the associated
emphasis on "acclecticism", (b) "multi-culturalism" in catering to the peculiar racial, religious
and linguistic mix in Singapore's population, with the associated emphasis on "bilingualism", and
(c) "credentialism" in the preoccupation with the paper chase to the possible neglect of the
intrinsic value and enjoyment in learning, together with the associated emphasis on
"kiasuism", a syndrome related to the fear of losing out.

The paper concludes with a call for the combined effort of Eastern and Western scholars not
only to study how Western theories could be made more relevant in Singapore but also to try
to develop more indigenous theories based on Eastern thoughts and prevailing Singaporean
beliefs and practices.
Appears in Collections:Journal Articles - Singapore Journal of Education

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