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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The theory and practice of education in the People's Republic of China Hawkins, John Noel

Abstract

The purpose of this thesis is to discuss the development of the theory and practice of education in the People's Republic of China using as much as possible the framework out of which the Chinese communists themselves view it. Part I deals with education contextually in order to establish it as an important component of modernization in transitional societies such as China. Both Western and Chinese communist concepts of modernization are considered. Chapter i of Part I is a brief historical survey of the development of education in pre-communist China. Part II constitutes the bulk of- the thesis and discusses the two main components of Chinese communist education—theory and practice. Chapter iii is an analysis of the evolution of the Chinese communist theory of education. The method used is discussion of the major documents dealing with the Chinese communist theory of knowledge and education since 1934. Most of these were written by Mao and were based on his understanding of Marxism-Leninism which is also discussed in detail. After 1949, the two most important educational documents (1950 and 1958) are translated in the Appendix and discussed in the text. This chapter on theory traces common themes in the theory and bears out the proposition that in its most essential aspects the communist theory of education in China since 1934 has remained constant. Chapter iv deals with the quantitative aspects of education since 1949 and gives a general discussion of facilities, enrollment (supported in the Appendix with-tables) and changes in the practice of education. Chapter v attempts a synthesis of the sections on theory and practice by juxtaposing theoretical campaigns against the responses of various educational institutions. All of these campaigns were designed to bring about a closer relationship between the theory and practice of education. This discussion supports the main assertion of the thesis that since 1949 the Chinese communist theory of education has never been realized in practice and in fact has met stiff resistance in certain areas. This has led to the Cultural Revolution in the field of education and the kinds of educational reforms which are taking place today.

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