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International Review of Education

, Volume 57, Issue 3–4, pp 337–355 | Cite as

Self and the other in the Confucian cultural context: Implications of China’s higher education development for comparative studies

  • Rui Yang
Article

Abstract

The central purpose of China’s modern higher education has been to combine Chinese and Western elements at all levels including institutional arrangements, research methodologies, educational ideals and cultural spirit, a combination that brings together aspects of Chinese and Western philosophical heritages. This, however, has not been achieved. There is an urgent need for critical examination of the long-term consequences of grafting American academic practices onto a Chinese base. This article examines the tensions in the interactions in higher education between the traditional Chinese and the imposed Western modes of thinking. Borrowing a definition of the structure of culture, this paper reveals the various extents to which layers of Chinese higher education have achieved any degree of success. It finds that with a strong catch-up mentality, China’s contemporary higher education policies are responsive to Western influences. These are however only applied as panic-stricken and expedient band-aid remedies, rather than as strategies based on systematic understanding of cultural contexts. Accordingly, Chinese universities are uncritical towards the European-American model and its variants. This article warns that without an infusion of traditional education values, universities in China risk losing touch with their cultural contexts in their quest for world-class status.

Keywords

Context Culture Ways of thinking Comparative studies Higher education China 

Résumé

Le moi et les autres dans le contexte culturel confucéen : implications de l’évolution de l’enseignement supérieur en Chine pour les études comparées – L’enseignement supérieur moderne de la Chine poursuit l’objectif premier d’associer des aspects chinois et occidentaux à tous les niveaux, dont les systèmes institutionnels, les méthodologies de recherche, les idéaux éducatifs et l’esprit culturel, association qui rassemble des éléments des héritages philosophiques de la Chine et de l’Occident. Cet objectif n’a cependant pas été atteint. Il est nécessaire de procéder d’urgence à un examen critique des conséquences à long terme d’une greffe des pratiques universitaires américaines sur une base chinoise. Cet article examine les tensions existant dans les interactions de l’enseignement supérieur entre la Chine traditionnelle et les modes de pensée occidentaux imposés. Empruntant une définition de la structure culturelle, l’auteur expose dans quelle mesure les différents niveaux de l’enseignement supérieur chinois ont obtenu des succès à divers degrés. Il constate que, fortement marquées par une mentalité de rattrapage, les politiques actuelles de l’enseignement supérieur chinois sont réceptives aux influences occidentales. Mais ces politiques sont appliquées exclusivement à titre de remèdes administrés sous l’effet de la panique et sous forme d’expédients de fortune, au lieu de stratégies fondées sur une interprétation systématique des contextes culturels. En conséquence, les universités chinoises manquent d’esprit critique à l’égard du modèle euro-américain et de ses variantes. L’auteur avertit que, à moins d’insuffler les valeurs éducatives traditionnelles, les universités chinoises courent le risque de se couper de leurs contextes culturels dans leur quête d’un statut de niveau international.

Zusammenfassung

Das Ich und das Andere im kulturellen Kontext des Konfuzianismus: Was bedeutet die Entwicklung der Hochschulausbildung in China für die Komparatistik? – Bislang besteht das zentrale Anliegen der modernen Hochschulausbildung in China in der Kombination chinesischer und westlicher Elemente auf allen Ebenen, unter anderem für institutionelle Regelungen, Forschungsmethoden, Bildungsideale und Kulturgeist, einer Kombination, die verschiedene Aspekte des philosophischen Erbes aus China und dem Westen zusammenführt. Dies ist jedoch nicht erreicht worden. Es bedarf dringend einer kritischen Untersuchung, welche langfristigen Folgen es hat, wenn wissenschaftliche Gepflogenheiten Amerikas auf chinesische Grundlagen aufgepfropft werden. In diesem Artikel wird das Spannungsfeld zwischen den traditionellen chinesischen und den aufgezwungenen westlichen Denkweisen in der Hochschulausbildung untersucht. Anhand einer entlehnten Definition von Kulturstruktur zeigt dieser Artikel auf, inwieweit die drei Schichten der chinesischen Hochschulausbildung erfolgreich sind. Ein Ergebnis ist, dass die derzeitige Hochschulpolitik Chinas von einer starken Aufholmentalität geprägt ist und auf westliche Einflüsse reagiert. In die Praxis umgesetzt wird sie jedoch nicht in Form von Strategien, die auf dem systematischen Verständnis des kulturellen Kontexts basieren, sondern lediglich als von Panik getriebene und auf einen unmittelbaren Zweck hin ausgerichtete Behelfsmaßnahmen. Dementsprechend sind chinesische Universitäten gegenüber dem europäisch-amerikanischen Modell und dessen Abwandlungen unkritisch. In diesem Artikel wird davor gewarnt, dass Universitäten in China bei ihrem Streben nach einer Position an der Weltspitze Gefahr laufen, den Kontakt mit ihrem kulturellen Kontext zu verlieren, wenn sie die traditionellen Werte der Bildung außer Acht lassen.

Resumen

En sí mismo y en los demás, en el contexto cultural confuciano: implicaciones del desarrollo de la educación superior de China para estudios comparativos – El objetivo central de la educación superior moderna de China ha sido combinar elementos chinos y occidentales en todos los niveles, incluyendo estructuras institucionales, metodologías de investigación, ideales educativos y espíritu cultural, en una combinación que reúna los legados filosóficos de China y de Occidente. Sin embargo, este objetivo no se ha alcanzado. Es urgentemente necesario someter a un examen crítico las consecuencias que, a largo plazo, producen los injertos de prácticas académicas norteamericanas en una base china. En este trabajo, el autor examina las tensiones que se producen en la educación superior con la interacción entre modos de pensar tradicionales chinos y aquellos impuestos, occidentales. Sirviéndose de una definición de la estructura cultural, este trabajo revela los diferentes grados de éxito que han logrado los legisladores de la educación superior china. El autor comprueba que, por una marcada tendencia de buscar la actualidad, las políticas contemporáneas chinas para la educación superior son muy permeables a las influencias occidentales. Sin embargo, estas solo se aplican como parches y soluciones de emergencia, más que como estrategias basadas en una comprensión sistemática de contextos culturales. Así, las universidades chinas no son críticas frente al modelo europeo-norteamericano y sus variantes. El autor advierte en este trabajo que, si no se infunden en ellas valores educativos tradicionales, las universidades en China corren peligro de perder el contacto con su contexto cultural en el afán por conseguir una categoría de clase mundial.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of EducationUniversity of Hong KongHong KongChina

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