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New ladders of success : Sichuan students in the transitional times 1900-1920 Yu, Li

Abstract

This Dissertation examines Sichuan students' attitude toward modern education in the transitional times. The text describes the intrinsic crisis of the civil service examination system in the late nineteenth century, the establishment of the new school system in the first decade of the twentieth century, and the birth of the first generation of the new political elite in Sichuan after the 1911 Revolution. It highlights the students' participation in the educational reform from their motives of career-seeking and social mobility rather than from their political sentiments such as radicalism, nationalism, and modernization. The study argues that without fundamental social and economic change, educational reform in inland China did not cause a substantial change in the students' traditional attitude towards education. The new school system, substituting for the abolished civil service examination system, functioned as a new ladder of success or a new elite recruiting mechanism for the students. The study suggests that statistical growth did not mean modernity. Tradition played an important role in inland China's modernization movements in the twentieth century by shaping the ways that were used to pursue the aims of the movements and the motives of the people who participate in the movements. Extensive primary documents - ranging from government decrees to local gazetteers - are employed in the study, and attention is paid to the similarities and contrasts between Sichuan and the coastal provinces. Quite a number of tables and a comprehensive bibliography are also included.

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