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East Meets West, Dewey Meets Confucius and Mao: A Philosophical Analysis of Adult Education in China

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Abstract

The Chinese emphasis on education is legendary, and adult educa­tion has been part of this legendary history since the beginning of its 5,000 year-old civilization. Among many great thinkers who have provided philosophical visions and guidance in the history of Chinese adult education, three philosophers are most influential: Confucius, John Dewey, and Mao Zedong. Confucius is one of the ear­liest recorded adult educators. During his life, 3,000 disciples studied with him; 72 of them became very distinguished. Much of his time was spent in teaching adults, particularly during the years he spent traveling across the country. For centuries to come following his death, Confucius’s influence remained strong in Chinese history by way of reproduction of his classics in the civil service examinations. John Dewey was an American philosopher who visited and lectured in China from 1919 to 1921. During his stay, he traveled extensively in China and lectured on philosophy, in general, and the philosophy of education, in particular. He was among the first to challenge Confucianism. His impact on recent Chinese adult education was immense, particularly from the 1920s to 1940s, before the People’s Republic of China was established. With the birth of the new republic in 1949 came the era of Mao Zedong. Many people in the world know Mao as a communist revolutionary leader.

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© 2009 Ali A. Abdi

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Guo, S. (2009). East Meets West, Dewey Meets Confucius and Mao: A Philosophical Analysis of Adult Education in China. In: Abdi, A.A., Kapoor, D. (eds) Global Perspectives on Adult Education. Palgrave Macmillan, New York. https://doi.org/10.1057/9780230617971_9

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