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‘I Respect You but I Am Not Willing to Be You’: Critical Reflections of Western Teaching of Social Work to Students in China—What Can be Learned Both Ways?

1
School of Human Services and Social Work, Griffith University, Gold Coast, QLD 4215, Australia
2
Menzies Health Institute Queensland, Griffith University, Gold Coast, QLD 4215, Australia
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Australia China Social Work Research Centre, Central China Normal University, Wuhan, Hubei Province 430000, China
4
School of Sociology, Central China Normal University, Wuhan, Hubei Province 430000, China
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Soc. Sci. 2019, 8(10), 272; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci8100272
Received: 15 August 2019 / Revised: 21 September 2019 / Accepted: 23 September 2019 / Published: 27 September 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Personal Essays in Social Science)
Staff from a Western University annually travel to China to teach social work students at a Chinese University, providing a rich opportunity to share ideas and knowledge about values and practices in social work. One common point of tension that arises each year is how to teach critical reflection whilst considering differences between Eastern and Western ways of knowing and doing. This article is based on email conversations between one Australian lecturer and one Chinese student, containing their discussions on not just critical reflection but also of various key social work topics in China such as social worker’s salary, social work as a profession and using empathy. The student questioned social work in an authentic and practical manner; while the lecturer responded with examples and reflections as a role model of critical reflective thinking and practice in the Chinese context. While such letters of exchange only reflect the particular points of view of the lecturer and the student, much can still be learned about current issues and debates in both countries. The insights given raise many questions about the implications and benefits for sensitively teaching social work across East/West contexts whilst trying to develop anti-colonial social work educational approaches.
Keywords: critical reflection; higher education; social work; China; email critical reflection; higher education; social work; China; email
MDPI and ACS Style

Gallagher, H.; Yang, L.; Liang, J. ‘I Respect You but I Am Not Willing to Be You’: Critical Reflections of Western Teaching of Social Work to Students in China—What Can be Learned Both Ways? Soc. Sci. 2019, 8, 272.

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