Changing Concepts of Merit in China's Education System: An Oral Historical Research of Teachers in Key Schools
Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
This study examines teachers' views of meritocracy and how their conceptions and views influence their everyday practices in schools with regard to producing, recognizing, and awarding individual merit in China's key schools. This study uses a qualitative methodology, especially oral history interviews. It shows that the meaning of merit has changed over time, depending on cultural and institutional contexts during China's transition from Mao's age to the present. Thirteen teachers, who have been working in the education system of China since the early 1980s, and who have worked as teachers in China's key (magnet/elite) schools (including higher education institutions), were selected as participants for this study. Teachers are the actors who recognize and produce individual merit in students' daily work. They generally believed in the idea of educational meritocracy and did their best to help students move forward in the education system. During the transition from 1978 to the present, teachers witnessed the changes in the concepts of merit in Chinese society, the importance of socialist values such as altruism and unconditional public service has faded away from the education system. Instead, The exam and student evaluation system constitutes a "scientific" method to produce and recognize individual merit. Institutionalized standards and quantitative evaluations were used in schools to measure and award merit. The evaluativeness in the school system consecrated students' precocity and charismatic values in the name of merit.
Chen, Yao, "Changing Concepts of Merit in China's Education System: An Oral Historical Research of Teachers in Key Schools" (2020). Dissertations. 3857.
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