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Against democratic education

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This is the fourth of five commentaries discussing Zongjie Wu’s essay, ‘Interpretation, autonomy, and transformation’. It argues that he may have committed two methodological mistakes in his contrast between traditional Chinese education and contemporary Chinese (and Western) education: reverse-Orientalism and a form of fundamentalism. It will then argue that the distinction Wu’s essay correctly reveals is not between China and the West, but between forms of a philosophical education and those of the mass education. In contemporary Western democratic education, the philosophical, political, and mass forms of education are collapsed into one, mass education, and by arguing for preservation of philosophical education on a mass level, Wu also implicitly adopts this conflation position. However, this commentary will argue that this conflation needs to be corrected, and the traditional Confucian education actually tries to strike a middle way between, and to correct, the forms of pre-democratic Western education and democratic education.

Keywords: Chinese education; Confucius; East Asian education; democratic education; philosophical education

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: October 1, 2011

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