Reverend Doctor vs. Peer Learning

I have been thinking about the effect of culture on education, particularly how a society’s power distance changes how people think about and practice learning and teaching. Hofstede defines Power Distance and summarizes the difference it can make.

Power Distance:

The extent to which the less powerful members of institutions and organizations within a country expect and accept that power is distributed unequally.

Small Power Distance Large Power Distance
Students treat teachers as equals. Students give teachers respect, even outside class.
Teachers expect initiatives from students in class. Teachers should take all initiatives in class.
Teachers are experts who transfer impersonal truths. Teachers are gurus who transfer personal wisdom.
Quality of learning depends on two-way communication and excellence of students. Quality of learning depends on excellence of the teacher.
Less education persons hold more authoritarian values than educated persons. More educated and less educated persons show equally authoritarian values.
Educational policy focuses on secondary schools. Educational policy focuses on universities.

(Geert Hofstede, Cultures and Organizations: Software of the Mind, Chapter 3)



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