Asia Pacific Education Review

, Volume 14, Issue 3, pp 391–401 | Cite as

Societal culture and teachers’ responses to curriculum reform: experiences from China

  • Hong-biao Yin


Educational change is intrinsically bound to the cultural characteristics of the society. However, the relationship between educational change and societal culture is rarely explored, especially in the context of mainland China. Following a 3-year qualitative research project, the present study explored the influence of societal culture on teachers’ responses to the national curriculum reform of upper secondary education in mainland China. The results generated three themes highly relevant to teachers’ responses to curriculum reform in Chinese culture, namely teachers’ obedience, teachers’ facework and teachers’ collaboration. These teachers’ responses reflected some Confucian ethics rooted in Chinese culture and explained the absence of radical teacher resistance to the national curriculum reform. It was suggested that a culturally sensitive approach to change leadership may have been more fruitful for facilitating the aims of curriculum reform in mainland China.


Societal culture Curriculum reform Change leadership Confucian tradition Mainland China 


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Copyright information

© Education Research Institute, Seoul National University, Seoul, Korea 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Curriculum and Instruction, Faculty of EducationThe Chinese University of Hong KongHong KongChina

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