China as a Contesting Ground for Ideologies: Examining the Social and Ideological Forces that Influence China’s Educational System

  • Shibao Guo University of Alberta


From 1919 to 1921, John Dewey travelled and lectured in China. He received a thunderous welcome and exercised a tremendous influence in China, however, very little has been written about it. The first purpose of this article is to investigate Dewey's visit to China and his influence on Chinese education. The second is to examine the various social and ideological forces with which Dewey's progressivism co-existed and interacted in shaping China's current educational system, and to determine which force(s) exert the strongest influence. China's educational system today is defined and guided by a synthesis of various social and ideological forcesÑtraditional Confucianism, Deng's pragmatism, Maoism, and Dewey's progressivism. These forces, although often theoretically exclusive of one another, have in practice been woven into the tapestry of the system at all levels. This paper encourages readers to learn from others in improving their own educational systems.