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Teaching, Learning, and Reflective Acting: A Dewey Experiment in Chinese Teacher Education


by Zhixin Su — 1996

This article illustrates how Tao Xingzhi, a former student of John Dewey at Columbia University and a most prominent figure in the modern Chinese history of education, boldly experimented with Dewey’s philosophy in Chinese teacher education. Turning a “half somersault" of Dewey’s theories to conform to the social and educational conditions in China in the 1920s, Tao transformed Dewey’s “school as society" into his “society as school," Dewey’s “education as life?into his “life as education," and Dewey’s “learning by doing" into his principle of the “unity of teaching, learning, and reflective acting." On the basis of these principles, Tao established the famous Morning Village Normal School in a small rural area in Nanjing, China. The Normal School served as both a base for preparing rural teachers and a center for village renewal: The students learned to run village schools by running village schools and the whole village became a learning community. Although Tao’s experiment in the Morning Village lasted only for three years due to political pressures and military intervention, his efforts represented the most thorough and creative implementation of the Dewey philosophy in Chinese teacher education. Widely recognized as a viable solution to problems in Chinese teacher education and rural education and an avenue for national development and reconstruction, the Normal School was reestablished in 1949 and has continued to serve as a national experimental site for teacher education reform in China.


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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 98 Number 1, 1996, p. 126-152
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 9615, Date Accessed: 12/11/2017 4:19:37 AM

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About the Author
  • Zhixin Su
    University of California, Los Angeles

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