Weiying Li on “Designing Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) curriculum”.

14 Oct, 2023

Weiying Li on “Designing Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) curriculum”.

We're thrilled to support our students in their summer research. Read about Weiying Li's research into Designing Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) curriculum below!

In Summer 2023, I spent my time in rural China to work on my project “Designing Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) related science inquiry curriculum for rural Chinese middle school students”. In partnership with the local rural community leaders, TCM doctors, and rural middle school science teachers, we developed a TCM related science inquiry curriculum on the Web-based Inquiry Science Environment (WISE) for 80 8th grade rural middle school students in China. The curriculum design and implementation are aimed to answer these research questions: What are rural Chinese students’ and teachers’ scientific epistemologies? What is their understanding of TCM in terms of science? In the future classroom teaching and iteration, we plan to answer this question: How to design an effective TCM science curriculum for rural Chinese students and teachers?

Before Summer 2023, the curriculum design team had several meetings about the curriculum outline and we had a draft. In Summer 2023, we sit together to finalize the curriculum. There are three main units: Getting to know TCM - Origin and Culture, Science Inquiry in TCM, and The cupping therapy and modern TCM. All readings and curriculum are discussed and designed in Mandarin and local dialect with rural Chinese science teachers, but pedagogical theories and some teaching activities are discussed in English with UC Berkeley phd students and professors. The curriculum is then translated back to English by me and discussed with UC Berkeley scholars.

The biggest challenge of designing this unit is to explore our different positionalities about TCM within the curriculum design team. We kept asking ourselves: What is the appropriate balance of indigenous Traditional Chinese Science knowledge and western science inquiry? What is the appropriate knowledge depth to 8th graders in rural China? Can this TCM curriculum fit within the current rural Chinese context (where students still need to take the exams of the western science concepts in the end)? TCM doctors want to promote TCM and traditional culture values related to it, while science teachers and school leaders wish to deepen students' understanding of science concepts and improve their academic performance. But after several meetings, we both agreed that cultural identity should not be forgotten while we learn western science, and we can’t use deficit thinking in our own traditional culture. By developing a TCM related science inquiry curriculum for rural middle school students, we will let students know the existence of multiple ways to understand and interact with the world and understand their own cultural competence. This is even more important for rural Chinese students. Lacking the funding, resources, and teachers, science education in rural China is very restricted. Rural students who grow up with indigenous wisdom of applying TCM to treat diseases will be more engaged in school science if they see it as relevant and useful to their communities.