The teaching of Chinese history in English schools in the twentieth century : a case study in world history teaching
The thesis focuses upon China as one example of a non-European culture which might merit fuller consideration in British school curricula. Five principal questions are addressed. First, should Chinese history be taught in schools? Second, has it been neglected hitherto? Third, can the reasons for neglect be identified? Fourth, could Chinese history be taught in schools, and how might it be approached? Fifth, are there adequate resources for teacher and pupil use? All five are answered in the affirmative. Teaching Chinese history is shown to be justified on grounds of intrinsic interest and importance and educational potential. Nonetheless, a study of schoolbooks, history teaching handbooks and reports, theses, journal articles, school inspectoral reports and the recollections of teachers and advisors suggests that Chinese history has suffered serious neglect in schools. The principal reason behind that neglect is shown to be the theory of historical progress, euro- and Anglo-dominated, and concentration in historical education upon the evidence for and narrative detail of that progress, particularly its constitutional and political features, in pursuit of moral and civic education. The influence of major official and semi-official bodies is noted, as is that of the New History movement of recent years. It is suggested, however, that the pattern has also reflected deep-rooted assumptions as to national worth and superiority and acceptance of a range of ethnic, national and racial stereotypes. The role of the popular media is discussed. Foreign influences are considered. With regard to the fourth and fifth questions, it is argued that Chinese history could be introduced to school curricula but that such development demands a broader world-historical framework. In addition, it must capitalise on the move in recent years towards resource-based evidential learning. The importance of the teacher in stressed, and books on Chinese history and civilisation which a non orientalist could draw upon are suggested. Aspects of Chinese history which might be studied in schools, and the relevant adult literature, are considered. Finally, available books and materials suitable for children's use are recommended.