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Conceptions of lifelong learning in Confucian culture: their impact on adult learners

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The philosophy and practice of lifelong learning has a long history in China, being traceable to Confucius's idea (circa 500 BC) of 'education for all'. However, very little research has been done on the development of the Confucian idea of lifelong learning in ancient China, or on its influence on current practices of lifelong learning within the wave of educational globalisation. This paper contains three parts that explore these topics. The first describes how Chinese people perceive and practise lifelong learning in the Confucian tradition. Apart from an updated review of Confucian ideas and practices, the development of Confucian tradition in selected dynasties is also examined. The second analyses characteristics of Confucian heritage learning cultures and their strong impact on present-day Chinese learners, including: pursuit of lifelong learning, teacher authority, collaborative learning, and the function of effort in successful study. The final part discusses negotiation and integration of Chinese and Western learning cultures in a globalising world.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: HKU School of Professional and Continuing Education, The University of Hong Kong, China

Publication date: September 1, 2008

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