Academic journal article Canadian Social Science

Experiential Learning of Curriculum Reform in China

Academic journal article Canadian Social Science

Experiential Learning of Curriculum Reform in China

Article excerpt


With the promotion of comprehensive curriculum reform in China, a focus on pupils' "learning experience" in primary and secondary schools has become popular. In practice, however, there exist some problems of implementation: Conceptual confusion, too much focus on "experience" and not enough on "learning"; unclear objectives, resulting in a lack of proper understanding of what learning can be achieved through experience; and a change of form but not substance. We believe that experience learning is not intended simply to maintain students' current life experience, but to go beyond this; not simply to prepare students for future experiences, but to lead them to go beyond reality experience and forward to a better life.

key words: Experience learning; Popularity; Deviation; Value orientation


The way of learning is of great significance to students. Changing learning methods is one of the key points in basic education curriculum reform. The current stage of curriculum reform gives a prominent role to learn based on the students' experience. The Basic Education Curriculum Reform Program (Trial) (Ministry of Education of the People's Republic of China, 2001, July 27) states: "Students' interests and experiences should be considered",

Changing the over emphasis on receptive learning, rote, mechanical training and encouraging students' active participation, the will to explore and practice, and cultivating student' ability of collecting and processing information, obtaining new knowledge , analyzing and solving problem, communicating and cooperating

With promotion of comprehensive curriculum reform, a focus on experience learning has become popular in primary and secondary schools. However, although the policy advocates experience learning, it gives no detailed explanation of the concept. So, this leads to different interpretations of what experience learning means in practice. As theory guides practice, different theoretical interpretations thus lead to different practices, not necessarily within the spirit of the original intention.


One of the key points of curriculum reform is to change the ways students leam. To address the issue of teaching content being divorced from students' real life experience, the reform advocates learning based on students' own real experiences. Influenced by this notion, teachers attach great importance to making use of and developing students' direct experience, extending teaching to outside the physical classroom itself, expanding learning content beyond books to wider community resources, transmitting the way of learning from simply understanding and accepting the known to exploring the unknown. Thus, as a key part of the development of new curriculum reform, experience learning has become popular in elementary and secondary schools.

In terms of its form, experience learning is through different courses and teaching methods, including research learning, community service and social practice, information technology education, labor and technical education, and a curriculum with the flexibility to be tailored to specific schools and local contexts. The implementation of these courses is not limited to the classroom; but is intended to lead students to take part in various activities to obtain direct experience. In addition to this, there is also "inquiry learning", "autonomous learning", "dialogue teaching". All these concepts attach great attention to students' personal experiences and provide opportunity for students to demonstrate their own original knowledge and experience, helping them to link this with new knowledge. In this reform process, students are no longer on the sidelines; teaching content and process are no longer designed by experts or teachers beforehand, with students passively accepting what is prescribed to them. Instead, students themselves become the co-owners of the curriculum and teaching, and actively participate in the development and implementation of the curriculum. …

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