Radicalism and Education Reform in 20th-Century China

Radicalism and Education Reform in 20th-Century China : The Search for an Ideal Development Model

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In 1976, China's 'education revolution' was being hailed by foreign observers as an inspiration for all low-income countries. By 1980, the Chinese themselves had disavowed the experience, declaring it devoid of even a single redeeming virtue. This is the first comprehensive book to cover the whole sweep of twentieth-century Chinese education, and to provide a detailed study of what occurred in the countryside under the radical Maoist education experiments during the Cultural Revolution. The study of both pre- and post-1949 China provided the crucial historical perspective to distinguish continuities from innovations. Rather than the epitome of good or evil, China's educational experiences of the 1970s instead emerged as the most tumultuous episode in a long and contentious struggle to adapt Western ways for use in a non-Western society.
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Product details

  • Electronic book text
  • Cambridge University Press (Virtual Publishing)
  • Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • 61 tables
  • 1139238671
  • 9781139238670

Review quote

"This volume constitutes a breathtaking achievement, in terms of the wide range of sources drawn upon and the remarkable grasp Pepper has of the whole sweep of modern Chinese educational history." The China Quarterly "...boldly conceptualized, copiously researched, and enormously detailed in its understanding. A major highlight is the author's heavy reliance on interview data to reconstruct the Cultural Revolution period...A masterly synthesis of years of scholarly research, it is destined to become the standard reference work on the subject for years to come." The Journal of Asian Studies "An excellent book, rich in data and sophisticated analysis. It proves again that Hong Kong interviews in the 1970s and early 1980s were a more abundant source of information on Chinese society than any of the available alternatives. It also establishes a paradigm for the study of 20th-century Chinese education which all future work in the field will have to relate to and which has implications also for the more general issues of development and modernization in China." The China Journal "...what Pepper has given us is a book that should be required reading not just for sinologists but for anyone doing serious work on comparative or international education." Stanley Rosen, Comparative Education Review "The relevant political context for each educational reform explored is presented with scholarly care making Pepper's book valuable to researchers in several periods of twentieth-century history." American Historical Review "The most important book of its genre that has been writen in the past twenty-five years...This work speaks eloquently of the importance of the historical perspective in understanding the origins and resonances that mark contemporary policy...In this case, an appreciation for historical context reminds us that ideas involving the nature of social justice as related to the promotion or restriction of equality of opportunity in educational terms, have been of crucial importance to the Chinese people throughout this century." East/West Education "With this volume, Suzanne Pepper establishes herself as the pre-eminent historian of China's efforts to adapt Western educational models to Chinese realities." Pacific Affairs "A masterly synthesis of years of scholarly research, it is destined to become the standard reference work on the subject for years to come." Journal of Asian Studies
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Table of contents

1. Educational developments and the Chinese experience; Part I. Origins of Radical Education Reform: 2. Development dilemmas in the Republican era; 3. The inheritance; 4. The modern school system; 5. The critical backlash; 6. Early communist alternatives; Part II. Learning from the Soviet Union: 7. Introducing the Soviet Union; 8. The Soviet model for Chinese higher education; 9. Sino-Soviet regularization and school system reform; 10. Blooming, contending, and criticizing the Soviet model; Part III. Cultural Revolution and Radical Education Reform: 11. The origins of cultural revolution; 12. The great leap in education; 13. A system divided: walking on two legs into the 1960s; 14. Education reform as the catalyst for class struggle; 15. Education reform as the culmination of class struggle: the professional educator's perspective; 16. Education reform as the culmination of class struggle: the critical ideals triumphant at last; 17. The Cultural Revolution negated; 18. The mixed triumph of regularity; 19. Chinese radicalism and education development.
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