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Building Bridges in a Third Space: A Phenomenological Study of the Lived Experiences of Teaching Chinese in American Chinese Schools

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This study explores the lived experiences of Chinese teachers in American Chinese Schools. Max van Manen’s methodology for hermeneutic phenomenological research provides a framework for the study, and the philosophical writings of Heidegger, Gadamer, and Derrida guide the textual interpretations. Pedagogical voices of Aoki, Pinar, and Greene, and cultural journeys of Hongyu Wang and Xin Li reveal possibilities for understanding the experiences of Chinese teachers, as the question is addressed: “What is the meaning of teaching Chinese in American Chinese Schools?” Ten Chinese teachers engaged in a series of open-ended conversations. The conversations illuminate the experience of Confucian teaching meeting American pedagogies around two main themes. First, in following the metaphor of Chinese knotwork, the teachers speak of their struggles and challenges between Chinese Confucian and American pedagogies, reflect on splitting and splicing the knots through changing and adjusting their method of Confucian teaching. Second, they tell of the experiences of building bridges in a third space through dialogically connecting the different cultures and pedagogies in order to seek the appropriate way of teaching and learning Chinese well in American Chinese Schools.


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