Moray House School of Education and Sport

Yangyi Zhou, MSc Education (Philosophy of Education) 2020

'The most memorable reflection on my academic learning was to identify a research paradigm in the first class of the Sources of Knowledge course. This is a new shift for me to realise the different paradigms and underpinned values and assumptions.'

Yangyi Zhou
Yangyi Zhou

What were you doing before you studied at the University of Edinburgh?

After I graduate from my undergraduate university majoring in Education, I applied for MSc Education at the University of Edinburgh.  During my undergraduate study, I conducted research on the topic of 'A Study on the Compatibility between the Language Input Hypothesis in Krashen’s Second Language Acquisition Theory - Taking Primary Schools in Changsha as Examples'. This was the beginning of my academic journey. From investigating the effect of second language acquisition on learning and teaching, I then recognised the nüshu: a unique script exclusively used by women in Jiangyong County, Hunan Province, China as the second language for local peasant women. I did some fieldwork in Jiangyong County and finally identified the traditional empathy education pattern. Currently, I am trying to compare the traditional empathy practice pattern with the digital empathy education practice in my dissertation, and will further focus on the same research topic at the University of Oxford.

Why did you choose to study at the University of Edinburgh?

There are some research groups at Moray House that I am interested in. For example, the Philosophy of Education Research Group (PERG) includes some relevant topics: theories of teaching and learning, moral education, theories of discipline, curriculum theory, virtue epistemology and education, theories of inclusion and social justice.

Besides, there are some rigorous and innovative scholars at Moray House. For example, Dr William Smith who is concerned with education policy in the context of comparative education, and Professor Gert Biesta who focuses on the theory of education and the theory and philosophy of educational and social research, with a keen interest in national and global education policy, curriculum, teaching and teacher education, democracy and citizenship education, religious education and education and the arts.

Why did you choose to study this degree?

I am concerned with the fundamental questions and problems of education. The philosophy of education examines the goals, forms, methods, and meaning of education. For example, philosophers of education study what constitutes upbringing and education, the values and norms revealed through upbringing and educational practices, the limits and legitimisation of education as an academic discipline, and the relation between educational theory and practice.

What did you enjoy most about the programme?

I enjoy the academic dialogues with my tutors, fellows and professors. For example, Professor Richard Andrews, who specialises in teaching and learning in English and the language arts, aroused my interest through his view that music is an art in women script and shapes their empathy education pattern. This area constitutes my second sub-question in my research proposal. Dr Shari Sabeti, an anthropography specialist, inspired me to learn about the different methodologies in anthropography and education, such as ethnography and case study. Following Professor Gert Biesta’s concern about the purposes of education in the age of assessment, I want to explore more about the purposes of education by addressing the empathy deficit in the age of the Internet. Dr William Smith and Dr Jack Lee, who devote themselves into higher education and comparative education, encourage me to think outside of the box and compare the different patterns in different places, rather than constrain myself to one region, by asking why a particular educational practice pattern suits a specific region. Dr Carole Faucher reminded me to conduct transdisciplinary research and Dr Lindsey K Horner helped me to develop intermediate ethnography method.

What specific skills did you develop?

I developed the ability to create more possibilities for interdisciplinarity through communicating with the teachers mentioned above.

What was the most useful thing you learned in your lectures, workshops and tutorials?

The most memorable reflection on my academic learning was to identify a research paradigm in the first class of the Sources of Knowledge course. This is a new shift for me to realise the different paradigms and underpinned values and assumptions.

After that, I explored more advanced research methods and approaches with the help of my dissertation supervisor, Dr Jeremy Knox. For example, the post-qualitative method.

Why would you recommend the programme to others?

This is a short-term, one-year programme. For those students who have the purpose of finding better jobs, this is a suitable choice as we can study the essential knowledge in this area and apply it in professional work in one year. For those who want to study further, this is also a good transition between undergraduate and PhD as there are more opportunities to communicate with professors, to find the overlap in interesting research topics.

In what way do you think the degree will contribute to your career?

It depends on the different needs and professional plans. For me, I will probably work for UNESCO in the future, aiming to alleviate educational poverty, especially in the rural area in China. The MSc programme might benefit for programme and project work, advice, research and knowledge management, networking, partnerships and resource mobilisation for the Education Programme as there is some collaborative presentation training.

What advice would you give to someone considering studying this programme at Edinburgh?

Stay hungry, stay foolish, and stay curious!