A hermeneutic inquiry into the meaning of curriculum change for Chinese teachers

Submitted by James Miller on Mon, 08/16/2010 - 10:31
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TitleA hermeneutic inquiry into the meaning of curriculum change for Chinese teachers
Publication TypeThesis
Year of Publication2009
AuthorsGuo, L.
Date Published2009
ISBN Number0494512415, 9780494512418
KeywordsCurriculum development, School administration
Abstract

China, the developing country with the largest and oldest public education system, is transforming its education system through a large-scale curriculum reform. The new national curriculum marks a dramatic change in the underlying educational philosophy and practices, which, in turn, have deep cultural and historical roots in Chinese society. During this system-wide curricular change, Chinese teachers find themselves, more or less, situated in an ambivalent space. That is, most teachers know of the curricular change, but they are uncertain about the meaning of the change and have some resistances borne out of the experiences of loss and challenges to their teacher identities. This study investigates what this massive curriculum reform means for Chinese teachers by grounding an enquiry in in-depth conversations with six teachers in Western China. An interpretation of these conversations reveals the complex dimensions of teachers' compliance and/or resistance with respect to change at a time when the Chinese curriculum landscape is shifting dramatically from a local to global perspective. Hermeneutics is employed as the research approach in this study because it attends to the humanness and interpretive nature of the participants' living through curriculum change and it offers important insights to the deeply inter-subjective nature of teachers' learning and unlearning. New understandings of teachers' identity transformation, cross-cultural curriculum conversations, and the psychic and social dynamics of teachers' learning are presented in this study. New discourses for enhancing cross-cultural understandings in curriculum studies and international development are also suggested. This study addresses an absence of research on education change and curriculum theories and serves as an example of engaging curriculum as a transnational conversation between East Asian and Western contexts.

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