Academic journal article Comparative and International Education

The Impact of New National Curricular Reform on Teachers/L'impact De la Réforme Du Nouveau Curriculum National Chez Les Professeurs

Academic journal article Comparative and International Education

The Impact of New National Curricular Reform on Teachers/L'impact De la Réforme Du Nouveau Curriculum National Chez Les Professeurs

Article excerpt

Abstract

China, the developing country with the largest and oldest public education system, is transforming its education system through a nation-wide curriculum reform. This large-scale curriculum change signifies China's complex and multi-dimensional processes and endeavors in empowering its educational system to meet the challenges and opportunities in the era of globalization. This paper reports on an interpretive case study with a particular interest in understanding the impact of the nation-wide curriculum reform on teachers in urban areas. Findings from this study present the complex dimensions of teachers' lived experiences during this dramatic education change and shed new insights on the current teaching profession in urban China.

Résumé

La Chine, pays en voie de développement avec le plus grand et le plus vieux système d'éducation public, est entrain de réformer son système en instaurant un curriculum national. Cette réforme cherche à ce que les processus multi dimensionnels puissent surmonter les nouveaux défis et opportunités de la globalisation. Cet article présente une étude de cas interprétative dont l'objectif principal est de comprendre l'impact que cette réforme éducative exerce sur les professeurs urbains. Les résultats montrent d'une part la complexité des différentes dimensions vécues par les professeurs lors de ce changement éducatif dramatique, et de l'autre, les nouvelles perspectives urbaines quant à la profession d'enseignant en Chine.

Introduction

Currently, China is undertaking an unprecedented nation-wide New Curriculum Reform (NCR) for school education (K-12), which involves 474,000 schools, 10 million teachers, and 200 million students (China Education and Research Network, 2011). The new national curriculum shifts dramatically from traditional Chinese education values and practices, and, therefore, creates new opportunities and tremendous challenges for teachers who have been charged with a collective task of translating the new national curriculum into pedagogical actions.

This paper reports on an interpretive case study with a particular interest in understanding the impact of the nation-wide education change on teachers in Beijing. It begins with a brief overview of Chinese educational traditions and the demands of the new national curriculum for teachers. This is followed by a description of the research objectives, methodology, and data collection/analysis. The impact of the nation-wide education change on teachers in Beijing are interpreted and highlighted through themes generated from the study of 18 teachers from urban and rural schools in the Beijing area. This paper provides new insights on the teaching profession in China in the era of globalization and presents the complex dimensions of teachers' lived experiences during this dramatic education change.

Educational Landscape in China

China has a long and rich tradition of education and the roots of its education system can be traced back as far as the 16th century B.C. Throughout its long history, education in China has remained as a highly centralized system dominated by Confucian tradition of merit and a structure of hierarchical examinations. The examination-oriented education system has not been stable through ancient and present times in China, but "the examination culture has been woven into the social fabric of the Chinese people's everyday life" (Li, 2005, p. 50). As a result, teaching and learning in Chinese schools has traditionally focused on helping students achieve good exam scores in standardized tests at various levels. The emphasis on exams contributed to the content-oriented and teacher-centered nature of educational practices in China and lefta lasting effect on teachers' professional identities. It is traditionally believed by Chinese people that knowledge lay in the teacher and the texts, and the teacher's role was that of expert and lecturer, giving definitive interpretations of the texts. …

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