International Education Journal


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Popular culture in mainland Chinese education

Wai-Chung Ho 
Department of Music, Hong Kong Baptist University, Hong Kong - China



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The policy and practice of school education in mainland China have changed in response to the political and economic reformations and opening-up of the late 1970s. This paper argues that, despite the introduction and emphasis on popular culture in some areas of school education, traditional Chinese culture and values continue to consolidate the authority of the State. The paper first establishes a framework for the analysis of popular culture in education. Secondly, it enquires into the policy of incorporating popular culture in education and educational reform, in accordance with current social changes in China. Thirdly, the paper analyses three pairs of social and political relationships that shape education and cultural identity in the school curriculum: (a) between collectivist Communist education and individualist popular culture; (b) between the education of Chinese traditions and virtues on the one hand, and popular culture on the other; and (c) between schools' and teachers' attitudes toward popular culture, and students' reactions to classroom learning. The paper concludes with a discussion of the contentious political issues surrounding the integration of popular culture in education.

Mainland China, popular culture, education reform, social change, challenge


Ho, W.C. (2006). Popular culture in mainland Chinese education. International Education Journal, 7 (3), 348-363.

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