In this post, MSc in Education (Philosphy of Education) student Zhou Yangyi, describes her motivations for studying on the programme, the community of scholars and learning she was able to be part of and the various ways the programme contributed to her skills development and future career plans.
After I graduated from my undergraduate degree in Education, I applied for the MSc in Education at the University of Edinburgh. During my Undergraduate study, I conducted research on the topic of A Study on the Compatibility between the Language Input Hypothesis in Krashen’s Second Language Acquisition Theory – Taking Primary Schools in Changsha as Examples. This was the beginning of my academic journey. From investigating the effect of second language acquisition on learning and teaching, I then recognized the nüshu: a unique script that exclusively used by women in Jiangyong County, Hunan Province, China as the second language for local peasant women. I did some fieldwork in Jiangyong County and finally identified the traditional empathy education pattern. Currently, I am trying to compare the traditional empathy practice pattern with the digital empathy education practice in my dissertation, and will further focus on the same research topic at the University of Oxford.
I chose the University of Edinburgh because of the many research groups at Moray House that I was interested in. For example, the Philosophy of Education Research Group (PERG) includes some relevant topics: theories of teaching and learning, moral education, theories of discipline, curriculum theory, virtue epistemology and education, theories of inclusion and social justice.
There are also some rigorous and innovative scholars at Moray House. For example, Dr William Smith who concerns the education policy in the context of comparative education. Professor Gert Biesta who focuses on the theory of education and the theory and philosophy of educational and social research, with a keen interest in national and global education policy, curriculum, teaching and teacher education, democracy and citizenship education, religious education and education and the arts.
I’m concerned about the fundamental questions and problems in education. The philosophy of education examines the goals, forms, methods, and meaning of education. For example, philosophers of education study what constitutes upbringing and education, the values and norms revealed through upbringing and educational practices, the limits and legitimization of education as an academic discipline, and the relation between educational theory and practice.
I enjoyed the academic dialogues with my tutors, fellows and professors. For example, Professor Richard Andrews, who specialises in teaching and learning in English and the language arts, aroused my interest through his view that music is an art in women script and shapes their empathy education pattern. This area constitutes my second sub-question in my research proposal. Dr Shari Sabeti, an anthropography specialist, inspired me to learn about the different methodologies in anthropography and education, such as ethnography and case study.
Following Professor Gert Biesta’s concern about the purposes of education in the age of assessment, I want to explore more about the purposes of education by addressing the empathy deficit in the age of the Internet. Dr William Smith and Dr Jack Lee, who devote themselves into higher education and comparative education, encourage me to think out of the box and compare the different patterns in different places, rather than constrain myself to one region, by asking why a particular educational practice pattern suits a specific region. Dr Carole Faucher reminded me to conduct transdisciplinary research and Dr Lindsey K Horner helped me to develop intermediate ethnography method. I have also developed the ability to create more possibilities for interdisciplinary through communicating with the teachers that I have already mentioned above.
The most memorable reflection on my academic learning was to identify a research paradigm in the first class of the Source of Knowledge course. This is a new shift for me to realize the different paradigms and underpinned values and assumptions. After that, I explored more advanced research methods and approaches with the help of my dissertation supervisor-Dr Jeremy Knox. For example, the post qualitative method.
This is a short-term, one-year program. For those students with the purpose of finding better jobs, this is the suitable choice as we can study the essential knowledge in this area and apply them in professional work in one year. For those who want to further study, this is also a good transition between undergraduate and PhD as there are more opportunities to communicate with professors to find the overlapped interesting research topics.
In the future, I will probably work for UNESCO, aiming to alleviate educational poverty, especially in the rural area in China. The MSc programme might benefit me for programme and project work, advice, research and knowledge management, networking, partnerships and resource mobilization for the Education Programme as there are some collaborative presentation training.
For those considering studying this programme at Edinburgh, I’d say; Stay hungry, stay foolish, and stay curious!