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Political Education and Character Formation in Primary School

  • Anita Chan

Abstract

Primary school teaching staffs were supposed to devote much of their energy to instilling the type of emotional attachment to party teachings that Bai expresses here. The successes achieved in this regard during the 1950s were remarkable considering the difficulties facing the school system’s administrators. At the time of urban China’s ‘Liberation’ in 1949, the vast majority of the teachers had not necessarily shared the party’s goals in education; quite the contrary, they had been trained (if they had been trained at all) in ‘petty-bourgeois’ teachers’ institutes. Party educators not only needed to reshape what went on in these teachers’ classrooms. At the same time, they needed to train a vast new army of teachers to accomplish the party’s promise of a mass system of elementary education. The scope of that mission can be seen in the following numbers: in 1950 China counted 29 million elementary school pupils; by the end of the decade, in 1959, the primary school population had expanded to 90 million.1

Keywords

Primary School Junior High School Sixth Grade Character Formation Land Reform 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes and References

  1. 1.
    John Emerson, Administrative and Technical Manpower in the Peoples Republic of China, International Population Report no. 72 (Washington, DC: US Department of Commerce, 1973) p. 95.Google Scholar
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    Dewey’s principles had been a reaction against a rapidly industrializing American society at the beginning of this century, where a system of universal education was evolving that was not designed to encourage individual thinking. On Dewey’s writings, see Oscar Handlin, John Dewey’s Challenge to Education (New York: Harper & Row, 1959);Google Scholar
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    So, too, do moral messages permeate Taiwanese and Hong Kong primers. For a selection of readings from pre-Cultural Revolution Chinese schools, see Charles Ridley, Paul Godwin and Dennis Doolin, The Making of a Model Citizen in China (Stanford: The Hoover Institute Press, 1971). See also the journal Chinese Education (White Plains, New York), Summer 1977, for a selection of primer readings from the mid-1970s.Google Scholar
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    This contradiction was pointed up in 1956 in a series of dissident articles that castigated official practices for strangling children’s independent thinking abilities, creativity and personality development. Zhang Lingguang, ‘A Discussion of the Educational Issues Concerning the Cultivation of Students’ All-round Development’, People’s Education (Aug 1956) 48; plus several editorials in People’s Education: ‘What is the Central Point of the Debate?’, People’s Education (Sept 1956) 7–8; ‘Abstract of Letters Concerning the Debate Over the Question of All-round Development’, People’s Education (Nov 1956) 19–22; and ‘Teachers Speaking on the Internal Contradictions of Educational Work’, People’s Education (Jan 1957) 6–8. This debate occurred during the brief period in 1956 of ‘blooming and contending’ in academic circles. On this, seeGoogle Scholar
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  28. 30.
    In this there exists a similarity between Bai’s orphanage and the kibbutz primary school studied by Melford E. Spiro, Children of the Kibbutz (Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1958) p. 263.Google Scholar
  29. 32.
    Cantonese neighbourhoods in the 1950s continued to bear strongly the social imprint of pre-Liberation residential patterns. So, too, did the primary and high school systems. Poor and overcrowded working-class neighbourhoods tended to have an undue share of the ill-equipped and poorly-staffed schools. For a detailed explanation of the geographical distribution of the different types of schools and neighbourhoods in Canton, see Stanley Rosen, Red Guard Factionalism and the Cultural Revolution in Guangzhou (Canton) (Boulder: Westview Press, 1982) pp. 60–6.Google Scholar

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© Anita Chan 1985

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  • Anita Chan

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