Michael McKenna, Thomas G. Jewell Professor, visited Korea with Curry doctoral student, Bong Gee Jang, to give a keynote address at the International Conference on Literacy Education held at Korea University. He spoke about issues and trends in American literacy education.
At the conference, hosted on May 27th by the University’s Center for Korean Literature and Language Education, several international literacy scholars shared their perspectives on issues in their own countries. These researchers included Machida Morihiro from Waseda University, Japan; Zheng Guo Min from Beijing Normal University, China; and Xu Peng from Northeast Normal University, China.
Dr. Namho Lee, director of the center, said that he and other Korean literacy researchers appreciated the opportunity to meet with. McKenna, who is an internationally known expert on literacy education and whose research has influenced Korean literacy research and policy. An article based on Professor McKenna’s talk, “Issues and Trends in American Literacy Education: When Irresistible Forces Meet an Immovable Object,” will appear next month in the Journal of Korean Language and Literature Education.
“I soon became convinced that Korean researchers have much to offer as collaborative partners with their American counterparts,” said McKenna. The differences in language and culture are far less formidable than I once believed. They not only respect the work we do but are often guided by it.”
During his visit to Korea, McKenna spoke with other groups of Korean educators, including faculty members from the Hanuri Reading Campaign Center, Kyonggi University, and Daegu National University of Education.
The Daily Focus newspaper, one of the largest dailies in South Korea, reported an interview with McKenna that included suggestions for how Korean parents and educators can improve student proficiency (http://www.fnn.co.kr/content.asp?aid=63c3690202dc4ba79873d96545549516).
McKenna was impressed by the literacy education in Korea. He was impressed by the influence of American researchers and foresees many opportunities for collaboration. In a digital age, he believes, the once formidable problems of distance and language can be solved as scholars with similar interests and concerns find ways to work together.
Jang gleaned from the trip the understanding that Americans have advanced their own literacy education by viewing it from a global perspective and involving scholars from around the world.
“A highlight of my trip to Korea was the opportunity to share what I have learned through my doctoral coursework at the Curry School with my colleagues at Korea University,” said Jang. They were already rather familiar with UVa because both institutions belong to the Universitas 21 (U21, http://www.universitas21.com/), an international network of 23 leading research-intensive universities in 15 countries. They were eager to extend their knowledge, and I was happy to tell them about my life in Charlottesville and about the interactions I have enjoyed with fellow students and Curry professors.”