Advertisement

Journal of Educational Change

, Volume 17, Issue 3, pp 287–302 | Cite as

Teacher agency and school-based curriculum in China’s non-elite schools

Article

Abstract

Mainland China has been embarking on a nation-wide education reform as part of its modernisation project for the past few decades. A relatively under-researched topic is teacher agency in non-elite schools where educators critically shape their reactions to new situations brought about by the reform. Focussing on the introduction of school-based curriculum in China, this article discusses how some educators from non-elite schools respond strategically to new opportunities and resources by promoting indigenous knowledge via engaging teaching methods. The essay illustrates, through two examples, how non-elite schools seek to provide the best kind of education available to their students by integrating Confucian and ethnic cultures into the formal curriculum. China’s experience demonstrates the exercise of teacher agency that arises from the interplay of human efforts, available capital and contingent factors. It also highlights the potential of utilising indigenous sources and synthesising them with non-local sources as part of implementing education reform.

Keywords

China Education reform Non-elite schools School-based curriculum Teacher agency 

References

  1. Ball, S. J. (1998). Big policies/small world: An introduction to international perspectives in education policy. Comparative Education, 34(2), 119–130.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Biesta, G., Priestley, M., & Robinson, S. (2015). The role of beliefs in teacher agency. Teachers and Teaching, 21(6), 624–640.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Biesta, G. J. J., & Tedder, M. (2006). How is agency possible? Towards an ecological understanding of agency-as-achievement. Working paper 5, Exeter: The Learning Lives project.Google Scholar
  4. Biesta, G. J. J., & Tedder, M. (2007). Agency and learning in the lifecourse: Towards an ecological perspective. Studies in the Education of Adults, 39, 132–149.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Cai, B., & Jin, Y. (2010). Realistic circumstances and future choices of reforms in basic education in China. Journal of Shanghai Normal University (Philosophy and Social Sciences Edition), 39(1), 92–102. (in Chinese).Google Scholar
  6. Chen, Y. P., & Liang, Z. (2007). Educational attainment of migrant children: The forgotten story of China’s urbanisation. In E. Hannum & A. Park (Eds.), Education and reform in China (pp. 117–132). Oxon: Routledge.Google Scholar
  7. Cheng, Z. (2011). Jiaoyu gongping lunshu yu Zhongguo jiaoyu zhengce zhi yanjiuyi Hunan jiaoyu qiangshen zhengce weili [Research on discourse in educational fairness and educational policy in China—Using the example of educational strengthening of the provinces in Hunan]. (Unpublished master’s thesis). National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University.Google Scholar
  8. De Brauw, A., & Rozelle, S. (2007). Returns to education in rural China. In E. Hannum & A. Park (Eds.), Education and reform in China (pp. 207–223). Oxon: Routledge.Google Scholar
  9. Dei, G. J. S. (2002). Rethinking the role of indigenous knowledges in the academy. NALL working paper # 58. Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto.Google Scholar
  10. Durrant, J., & Holden, G. (2006). Teachers leading change. London: Paul Chapman.Google Scholar
  11. Fenwick, T., & Edwards, R. (2010). Actor-network theory in education. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  12. Frost, D. (2006). The concept of ‘agency in leadership for learning. Leading and Managing, 12(2), 19–28.Google Scholar
  13. Giddens, A. (1984). The constitution of society. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  14. Hannum, E., & Park, A. (2007a). Academic achievement and engagement in rural China. In E. Hannum & A. Park (Eds.), Education and reform in China (pp. 154–172). Oxon: Routledge.Google Scholar
  15. Hannum, E., & Park, A. (Eds.). (2007b). Education and reform in China. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  16. Hong, Y. (2015). Teacher mediated agency in educational reform in China. Dordrecht: Springer.Google Scholar
  17. Jin, S. (2007). Curriculum reform: A major project that cannot be accomplished in a hurry. In Q.-Q. Zhong & G.-P. Qu (Eds.), Reflections on education in China (pp. 136–140). Shanghai: East China Normal University Press. (in Chinese).Google Scholar
  18. Jin, X. (2011). Shinian kegai: gaide zenyang? [Ten years of curriculum reform: What is the outcome?]. Guangming Ribao. Retrieved from http://news.guoxue.com/article.php?articleid=29420.
  19. Keiny, S. (1993). School-based curriculum development as a process of teachers’ professional development. Educational Action Research, 1(1), 65–93.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Law, E. H. (2011). School-based curriculum innovations: A case study in mainland China. International Journal of Humanities and Social Science, 1(2), 156–166.Google Scholar
  21. Law, H.-F. E., & Li, C. (Eds.). (2013). Curriculum innovations in changing societies: Chinese perspectives from Hong Kong, Taiwan and Mainland China. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers.Google Scholar
  22. Lewin, K., & Hui, X. (1989). Rethinking revolution; reflections on China’s 1985 educational reforms. Comparative Education, 25(1), 7–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Li, W., Park, A., & Wang, S. (2007). School equity in rural China. In E. Hannum & A. Park (Eds.), Education and reform in China (pp. 27–43). Oxon: Routledge.Google Scholar
  24. Lu, J. (2001). On the indigenousness of Chinese pedagogy. In R. Hayhoe & J. Pan (Eds.), Knowledge across cultures: A Contribution to dialogue among civilisations (pp. 249–253). Hong Kong: University of Hong Kong, Comparative Education Research Centre.Google Scholar
  25. Marsh, C., Day, C., Hanney, L., & McCutcheon, G. (1990). Reconceptualising SBCD. London: Falmer Press.Google Scholar
  26. Ministry of Education (2001). Notice of the issuance of ‘basic education curriculum reform programme (Trial)’ by the ministry of education (in Chinese). Retrieved from http://www.gov.cn/gongbao/content/2002/content_61386.htm/.
  27. Postiglione, G. A. (2007). School access in rural Tibet. In E. Hannum & A. Park (Eds.), Education and reform in China (pp. 93–116). Oxon: Routledge.Google Scholar
  28. Priestley, M., Biesta, G. J. J. & Robinson, S. (2012) Teachers as agents of change: An exploration of the concept of teacher agency. Working paper. http://dspace.stir.ac.uk/bitstream/1893/9266/1/What%20is%20teacher%20agency-%20final.pdf.
  29. Priestley, M., Edwards, R., Priestley, A., & Miller, K. (2012b). Teacher agency in curriculum making: Agents of change and spaces for manoeuvre. Curriculum Inquiry, 43(2), 191–214.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Roberts, H. (1998). Indigenous knowledges and Western science: Perspectives from the Pacific. In D. Hodson (Ed.), Science and technology education and ethnicity: An Aotearoa/New Zealand perspective. Proceedings of a conference held at the Royal Society of New Zealand, Thorndon, Wellington, May 7–8, 1996. The Royal Society of New Zealand Miscellaneous Series #50.Google Scholar
  31. Root, D. (2014). Debunking the myth of standardised education to promote equity and rigour. In A. T. Costigan & L. Grey (Eds.), Demythologising educational reforms: Responses to the political and corporate takeover of education (pp. 68–86). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  32. Ryan, J. (2011). Introduction. In J. Ryan (Ed.), Education reform in China: Changing concepts, contexts and practices (pp. 1–17). Oxford: Routledge.Google Scholar
  33. Tan, C. (2013). Learning from Shanghai: Lessons on achieving educational success. Dordrecht: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Tan, C. (2015). Education policy borrowing and cultural scripts for teaching in China. Comparative Education, 51(2), 196–211.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Tan, C. (2016). Educational policy borrowing in China: Looking west or looking east? Oxon: Routledge.Google Scholar
  36. Tan, C., & Chua, C. S. K. (2015). Education policy borrowing in China: Has the West wind overpowered the East wind? Compare: A Journal of Comparative and International Education, 45(5):686–704.Google Scholar
  37. Wang, B. (2012). School-based curriculum development in China: A Chinese-Dutch cooperative pilot project. Enschede: Netherlands Institute for Curriculum Development.Google Scholar
  38. Wang, Z., & Xiong, M. (2013). Xin kecheng gaige tuijinzhong cunzai de wenti, chengyin ji duice [The existing problems, causes and strategies in implementing the new curriculum reform]. Jiaoyu Lilun Yu Shijian, 8, 14–16.Google Scholar
  39. Watkins, C. (2005). Classrooms as learning communities. London: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Wu, G.-P. (2007). Why be confident about curriculum change. In Q.-Q. Zhong & G. Qu (Eds.), Reflections on education in China (pp. 164–166). Shanghai: East China Normal University Press. (in Chinese).Google Scholar
  41. Wu, D. (2010). Zhongguo jiaoyu gaige fazhan yanjiu [Research on the development of educational reform in China]. Beijing: Jiaoyu Kexue Chubanshe.Google Scholar
  42. Xie, G., Huang, C., & Zhou, S. (Eds.). (2010). Jujiao kegai juesheng ketang: Xin kecheng gaige lunwen huicui [Focussing on curriculum reform for winning classrooms: Essays on the new curriculum reform]. Zhejiang: Zhejiang daxue chubanshe.Google Scholar
  43. Yan, M. C. (2013). Towards a pragmatic approach: A critical examination of two assumptions of indigenization discourse. China Journal of Social Work, 6(1), 14–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Yang, R. (2005). Internalisation, indigenisation and educational research in China. Australian Journal of Education, 49(1), 66–88.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Yang, D. (2014). Xinkecheng gaige de deshi he shenhua: jianyu Wang Cesan jiaoshou jiaoliu [The pros, cons and deepening of the new curriculum reform: exchange with Professor Wang Cesan]. Xiandai Jiaoyu Kexue, 6. Retrieved from http://blog.sina.com.cn/s/blog_492471c80102e77a.html.
  46. Yao, H., & Xu, Z. (Eds.). (2014). Zhongguo xibu fazhan baogao [Annual report on development in Western region of China]. China: Shehui Kexue Wenxian Chubanshe.Google Scholar
  47. Yu, T. (2008). The revival of Confucianism in Chinese schools: A historical-political review. Asia Pacific Journal of Education, 28(2), 113–129.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Policy and Leadership Studies, National Institute of EducationNanyang Technological UniversitySingaporeSingapore

Personalised recommendations