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A historical comparison of intellectual renaissance in the East and the West

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It is not yet well known that there has been a selective bias in writing the ‘world’ history of higher education. Western hegemony prevails in this academic endeavour. To recover one of the many lost traditions of higher education, this paper will make a historical comparison of the two distinctive academic traditions representing the West and East: Scholasticism revived in the twelfth century and Korean Confucianism revived in the sixteenth century. If the University Paris was where Scholasticism blossomed in the medieval period, then it is in the material relation between a mentor and his disciples, through which a distinctive academic lineage was formed, where the renaissance of Korean Confucianism has taken place since the early sixteenth century. The paper examines some of the indisputable differences between the Western and Eastern methods of reaching academic excellence. The goals, subjects, methods and organisational bases of education in the two traditions do differ drastically. Instead of the centrality of the institution in the West, the centrality of relation was the key factor in the East. These differences however do not support for any value judgment of one tradition being superior to the other, as seen in many books on world history of higher education. A single minded analysis of a foreign model from the Western perspective will not provide a global history, but a historical comparison will.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Global Education Cooperation Major, Graduate School,Seoul National University, Seoul, Korea 2: Department of Education,Seoul National University of Education, Seoul, Korea

Publication date: February 1, 2013

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