It is usual for students from Western countries to have questions at the end of a lecture, but in Asian countries, students don’t ask questions. It is said that Asian students in school believe that teachers know best. The lecture written on the board will be at the exam, and if wordings are different on the exam, most students will not be able to answer the question. Boarding schools in Asia where students flourish are also a factor in their school performance.
Face pertains to scenarios in class for students and teachers. If a student asks a question in class, it can either imply that the students were too dumb to understand what the teachers have been discussing during lecture, which results in him/her losing face among their peers. It can also imply that the teacher was unable to thoroughly explain the topic during the lecture so the students could comprehend. These are situations where the students and teachers would instead save face and would rather ask their peers than asking questions during lecture time.
Tendency to Avoid Questions
Students and teachers avoid the scenarios above by not asking the questions in class. The student may approach teachers outside the classroom after class or later, when there are no other people around. Losing face is a severe issue in schools in Asia. Newly-arrived students from Asia are aware of losing face, but most of these students get westernized fast, and the culture of losing face virtually disappears. This situation is changing more as students are more exposed to western learning, teaching, and thinking, but we all know that Asian traditions never die.
This is a concept that goes hand-in-hand with the “face” issue. This example comes from Star Trek about the Cyborgs in their metal cube. They function individually, but their minds are linked and work as one. Students in Thailand sit in pairs. If you ask one student a question, there are no immediate responses. He/she will then turn to their partners and ask.
Teachers will then get a collective answer. This is good in some ways, but it makes it challenging for instructors to gauge each student’s knowledge. This is also the same in Japan, where students are even seated in pairs. Some students already know the answers, but for some students that don’t know, they are discretely given answers by their seatmates.