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Globalization, National Identity, and Citizenship Education: China’s Search for Modernization and a Modern Chinese Citizenry

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image of Frontiers of Education in China

Since the early 20th century, numerous scholars have proposed theories and models describing, interpreting, and suggesting the development paths countries have taken or should take. None of these, however, can fully explain China’s efforts, mainly through education and citizenship education, to modernize itself and foster a modern citizenry since the late 19th century. This article traces and examines these efforts through a reflective and critical analysis of such public texts as official policy documents, curriculum standards, and related commentaries, and reveals three major findings. First, China’s leaders have advanced different views of and approaches to development and citizenship in response to changing domestic and global contexts. Second, the Chinese state determines China’s development course, defines its national identity and citizenry, and selects its nation-building curricula. Third, the Chinese state’s growing desire for national rejuvenation in an increasingly competitive, globalized world in the 21st century mandates an important education mission that its citizenship education be politically and ideologically open and accommodative, and help students develop global, national and local identities and function as active, responsible citizens of a multileveled, multicultural world. This article furthers academic understanding of how China’s education responds to economic, political, and social demands and shapes students’ multiple identities in a global age.


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