Learning as Boundary-Crossing in a University Department as Teachers¡¯ Workplace

Authors: Liu, Yongcan

Affiliation: Faculty of Education, 184 Hills Road, Cambridge CB2 8PQ , UK

Abstract: This paper looks at teachers¡¯ informal learning in a university department in China. The research is situated against the backdrop of globalization at the time when the Chinese Ministry of Education advocated a liberal way of teaching English to college students so as to meet the social demands of a global English culture. To change the traditional curriculum, the Department of English Language Education (DELE) at the South University (pseudonym) developed an experimental course called ¡®critical thinking and creative learning¡¯ (CTCL) that reflects the liberal ideology in education. When the East meets the West, the prevailing issue in cross-cultural communication arises ¨C shall we go global or local? In this paper, based on a small set of data of informal discussion among three Chinese EFL (English as a Foreign Language) teachers in the department, the author draws on the third generation of activity theory and looks at how the problems in the CTCL course are negotiated with micro-analysis. It is argued that the university department as teachers¡¯ workplace for learning constitutes the boundary zone of the global and the local activity systems, and the process of boundary-crossing is mediated by the social practices as boundary objects.

Key words: Boundary-crossing, boundary zone, boundary object, teachers¡¯ workplace.

Page : 13-18     Vol.3, No. 1, 2008