190 pages | 6 B/W Illus.
With a focus on the role of discourse and language in education, this book examines China’s educational reform from an original perspective that avoids mapping on Westernized educational sensibilities to a Chinese environment. Zhao untangles the tradition-modernity division expressed in China’s educational language about the body and teacher-student difference. Exploring the historical and cultural implications of the ways China’s schooling is talked about and acted upon, Zhao argues that Chinese notion "wind" (feng) is a defining aspect of Chinese teaching and learning. Incorporating Western and Chinese literature, this book explores the language of education, curriculum, and knowledge on a cross-cultural landscape and as cultural inscriptions.
‘Dancing with The Wind’ is a far-sighted effort to transgress the dominant western epistemic lens through which the Chinese educational project is being constructed in research work. Without reverting to comfortable or essentialist narratives of the Chinese ‘other’, it locates educational reform in that country within a global space but delicately draws out the ways in which it is the embodiment of difference, using that to historicize the curriculum and schooling but in ways that disrupt our attempts to settle upon comfortable portraits and problematics. Written with humility and grace, it is an invitation to unlearn, and thus a powerful corrective to contemporary comparative research on China.
-- Stephen Carney, Associate Professor in Comparative Education, Roskilde University, Denmark
Zhao’s "Dancing with 'The Wind'" provides an important and intellectually creative contribution to the fields of curriculum, comparative and educational studies. The text provides a unique, novel and intellectually challenging approach for culturally and historically understanding the assumptions and implications of schooling. The analyses of the Chinese character of "wind’ is combined with other Chinese characters to bring into focus a cultural and linguistic terrain of the educational body that engages yet disengages Westernized modes of thought and the construction of difference. The book makes possible a way of thinking about the theoretical difficulties of comparison and offers a style of study for understanding difference. Its style engages in the self and other without the diminishing of either.
-- Professor Thomas Popkewitz, University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA
"This is an erudite, elegant and sophisticated analysis of more-than-China and more-than-the-West. Contesting education, curriculum, knowledge, history, and being, Zhao artfully navigates the fissures and Daoist-inspired un-learnings that arise at a crossroads that can never be cleanly pulled apart. Rather than stylizing East/West, she embraces the difficulties and complexities in historico-philosophical frames, foregrounding a notion of feng (the wind) as a signature within education’s inscriptions in China and not as reducible to ‘learning’. Zhao also offers interesting new twists on post-foundational thought here, presenting a series of aporetic realizations that demonstrate how a researcher is pushed into new domains. Reflexive, modest, and brilliant, this book is a must-read for any scholar who ever dared to cross a perceived border and felt something was at stake in the conditions of possibility for the making of lines in the first place."
--Prof. Bernadette M. Baker, University of Wisconsin, USA
A book whose form is loyal to its content, China’s Education, Curriculum Knowledge and Cultural Inscriptions overturns so many received categories in and beyond educational studies, taking on comparative analysis, Deleuzian difference, Foucauldian genealogy, Agambenian philosophy, ancient Chinese texts, Confucian pedagogy, and contemporary Chinese educational thought. It overturns what it takes on in that it doesn’t upend or obliterate them, but rather—to use one of Weili Zhao’s favorite descriptors—explodes them. Explosive movements result from massive buildups in volume and releases of energy such that the exploded thing is fragmented and scattered across space-time. Zhao builds up volume and releases energy by deftly crisscrossing different literature, using one concept to put pressure on another, producing aporias, fissures, and limits. Vitally, it isn’t just Zhao who does the exploding, but the concepts and knowledges themselves work on Zhao, creating encounters from which she can’t exit without being fragmented and scattered herself, totally exposed. In this way, it’s a book that one reads and is read by.
--Derek Ford, Assistant Professor of Education Studies, DePauw University, USA
This unique comparative study provides a paradigm on how to re-unpack Chinese cultural and educational sensibilities, entrapped within a Western epistemological interpretative framework over the past century, as they are. Re-parsing the daily life "wind-teaching" discourses in Chinese schools beyond the modern conceptual signification, it works backward to explicate the saying of Chinese "wind" and Confucius’ "wind-teaching" as the originary resources of the Chinese educational culture. Furthermore, more than an abstract theorization and envisioning, this research builds upon some embodied educational events in current China. With an historical-archaeological approach, this project is post-foundational in that it, rather than follow certain academic routines, catches and builds into the author’s encountering of certain educative moments as Daoist self-turning and un-learning living and being.
-- Professor Caiping Sun, Nanjing Normal University, China
China’s education and curriculum theories have been experiencing since the turn of the new millennium a powerful opening toward international cooperation and dialogue with an explicit interest to enhance the cause of openness and international receptivity in China’s education.
In her book Weili Zhao asks: How is it possible to first discern and then render intelligible cross-culturally some Chinese educational sensibilities that seem to be naturalized to Chinese and yet unthinkable to Westerners? While working upon this intricate question, Weili Zhao challenges the static conceptual deadlock of Western paradigm of comparative education research. She sees that comparative paradigm as one source for Western colonial bias using the Western epistemological frameworks as a reference point to gauge the non-Western knowledge and practices. This observation has gained momentum from Global South theorists like Sousa Santos and Paraskeva in their discourses of toxic epistemic ecosystems globally spreading "epistemicides" in education and curriculum policies and practices. Weili Zhao is critically alert and perceptive enough to trace the roots of domestic epistemicide in the modernization of China since 1920s. Weaving together the multitude of cosmopolitan threads through her autobiographic education journey and the methodology of post-foundationalism, her study as unique, exotic and positively eccentric is a powerful testimony to education and curriculum of an indispensable intellectual endeavour amid current instrumental, neoliberal excesses.
In these efforts, Weili Zhao’s new book is a milestone achievement in cosmopolitan curriculum theory. She insightfully, elegantly and with great intellectual power theorizes the intertwinements of her choice of the intellectual historical trajectories present in education and curriculum theories, policies and practices East, West and in-between.
--Professor Tero Autio, University of Tampere, Finland
Introduction: Encountering the Chinese "Wind" and "Body" Aporia as a Starting Point
PART ONE: OVERCOMING "EPISTEMICIDE" IN CROSS-CULTURAL EDUCATIONAL STUDIES
1."Epistemicide" as an Effect of Comparative Paradigms and Globalized Discourses
2. An Archaeological-Historical Mode of Inquiry
3. An Ontological Language-Discourse Perspective
PART TWO: PARADIGMATIC UNPACKINGS OF CHINA’S LANGUAGE, KNOWLEDGE, AND EDUCATION
4. Beyond Representation: Yijing Thought and Confucius’ Wind-Pedagogy
5. Beyond Conceptual Thinking: Chinese Body-Thinking and Educational Body
6. Beyond Identity vs. Difference Division: A Daoist Teacher-Student (Re)Ordering
PART III: REVISITNG MY RESEARCH-LEARNING JOURNEY AS A POST-FOUDNATIONAL CASE STUDY
7. Daoist Onto-Un-Learning Way & Post-foundational Study