1st Edition

Educational Policy Borrowing in China Looking West or looking East?

By Charlene Tan Copyright 2016
    202 Pages 18 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    226 Pages 18 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    For over a decade, Mainland China has been embarking on an ambitious nation-wide education reform ('New Curriculum Reform') for its basic education. The reform reflects China’s propensity to borrow selected educational policies from elsewhere, particularly North America and Europe. Chinese scholars have used a local proverb "the West wind has overpowered the East wind" to describe this phenomenon of ‘looking West’.

    But what do we mean by educational policy borrowing from the West?

    • What are the educational policies in China's new curriculum reform that are perceived to be borrowed from the West?
    • To what extent have the borrowed educational policies in China's new curriculum reform been accepted, modified, and rejected by the various educational stakeholders?
    • How does culture influence the various educational stakeholders in China in interpreting and mediating educational policy borrowing from the West?
    • How do the findings of this study on China’s education reform inform and add to the existing theories on and approaches to on cross-cultural educational policy borrowing?

    This book answers the above questions by critically discussing China’s policy borrowing from the West through its current reform for primary and secondary education. It presents the latest in-depth research findings from a three-year empirical study (2013-2015) with school principals, teachers, students and other educational stakeholders across China. This study offers new insights into China’s educational policy borrowing from the West and international implications on cross-cultural educational transfer for academics, policymakers and educators.


    1. Concepts, Theories, and Models of Educational Policy Borrowing

    2. Educational Policy Borrowing in China: Historical Perspectives

    3. Introduction to the New Curriculum Reform in China

    4. Looking West: Chinese Perceptions of the New Curriculum Reform

    5. The New Curriculum Reform in the Classroom

    6. Constructivism and Postmodernism for Education in China: A Critique

    7. Looking East: Confucian Influences on Chinese Education

    8. When East Meets West: Cultural Scripts, Indigenisation and the ‘Teacher-Directed, Student-Engaged’ Approach

    9. Surprises and Paradoxes in China’s Education Reform: The Example of Dulangkou Secondary School

    10. Conclusions and Implications


    Charlene Tan is an associate professor at the Policy and Leadership Studies Academic Group, National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University. A visiting scholar at the Institute of International and Comparative Education, Beijing Normal University in 2013, she has been teaching school leaders, teachers and administrators from various parts of China since 2008.

    This remarkable book contributes in multiple ways both to our understanding of current schooling and educational issues in China, and of processes of educational and cultural borrowing, a core theme in the field of Comparative Education. It is broad in scope as well as rich in empirical depth. ... I see this book as bringing an unusual depth and richness to insights into the process of educational borrowing, a core theme in the field of comparative education, also to the understanding of China’s current educational reform process. -- Professor Ruth Hayhoe, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto (in Frontiers of Education, Volume 11, Issue 3)