Modernising Education in Britain and China: Comparative Perspectives on Excellence and Social Inclusion

Modernising Education in Britain and China: Comparative Perspectives on Excellence and Social Inclusion

Modernising Education in Britain and China: Comparative Perspectives on Excellence and Social Inclusion

Modernising Education in Britain and China: Comparative Perspectives on Excellence and Social Inclusion

Synopsis

In spite of the perceived differences between Eastern and Western culture and society, the education systems of Britain and China can be seen to share certain goals, priorities and challenges. Modernisation is very much a core objective for educators in both countries. Moreover, both education systems must confront the tension between promoting social inclusion and achieving competitive academic excellence. Based upon the author's extensive teaching experience and over a decade's research into inclusion and exclusion in Britain, China and Hong Kong, this book provides an original, stimulating and insightful perspective on inclusive educational reform in two different cultures. It examines a broad range of educational environments, from kindergartens to teacher training colleges, and draws upon a fascinating diversity of official and personal documentary sources. Primarily concerned with the question of inclusion, the book also addresses issues of language and communication, gender imbalances and inequalities, curricula for teacher education, critical questioning and frameworks for learning support.

Excerpt

1988 and 2000 were both Years of the Dragon. In each I participated with Chinese colleagues in an international conference, the first in China and the second in England. Chinese cultural traditions appreciate a sequence that has a beginning and an end. As the head and the tail of the fish are therefore valued at a banquet so these two years become the head and tail of my project. The book is an account of what I have learned in between.

Dragon One tells a story of the 1988 conference. I follow this with a reflection on how my own experiences of education have shaped later professional commitments. In Dragon Two, following an account of the 2000 conference, one of my Chinese colleagues does the same.

Dragon One, 1988: The International Special Education Conference, Beijing

I first visited China to present a paper at the International Special Education Conference held in Beijing in 1988. I was also invited to act as a Strand Leader. My experience of the conference and the related pre-conference tour of other cities prompted the questions I later wanted to ask about China and provoked some critical thinking about western perceptions of Chinese educational practices.

In the January 1987 issue of the British magazine Spare Rib there was a short item in the news roundup at the back on the position of disabled people in China. A photo showed a woman working in a factory. The text said that there were major developments planned for education and employment. I saw that the news item was written on the basis of a special issue of Women of China, the English-language magazine published by the All China Women's Federation, which included a whole section on education (December 1986). A number of factors had combined to give children and young people who experienced barriers to their learning a higher profile in the 1980s (see Introduction and Chapter 1).

I began to explore the possibility of visiting China. A colleague in Bristol had visited China in 1983 and a delegation from China had visited the

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