Asia Pacific Education Review

, Volume 8, Issue 2, pp 178–193 | Cite as

Teachers’ cultural differences: case studies of geography teachers in Brisbane, Changchun and Hong Kong

  • Chi Chung Lam
  • John Lidstone
Article and Report


The primary purpose of this exploratory study is to identify variations in the ways in which individual teachers in different educational contexts interpret their curriculum and plan their lessons and in particular to explore the possibility that cultural differences as identified by Hofstede (1991) may be a contributing factor to understanding how teachers understand their work. “Educational reform” has become a catchphrase in the Anglo-American world, including the United States, Canada, Australia, and England and Wales, as well as in the Confucian Heritage Areas such as Mainland China, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. Across the world, the educational reform measures being implemented are surprisingly similar. This paper describes a study of how geography teachers in Queensland, Australia, Hong Kong, and Changchun, China, plan their lessons and curriculum. From classroom observations and interviews with the teachers involved, we confirmed marked differences in each location regarding their cultural traits of power distance, individualist and collectivist preference and uncertainty tolerance, and that these traits appear to be highly influential in their curriculum planning. Despite the small scale of this study, we contend that there are good reasons for caution before national education systems import policies and curriculum reform initiatives from other countries for unthinking adoption.

Key words

cultural differences teacher decision making geography teaching 


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Copyright information

© Education Research Institute 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Curriculum and InstructionThe Chinese University of Hong KongShatin, Hong Kong
  2. 2.Queensland University of TechnologyAustralia

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