ERIC Number: ED395818
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1996-Apr-9
Reference Count: N/A
Evolution of School Physics in the People's Republic of China.
This paper traces the evolution of school physics in China and elaborates on the current situation, ongoing experiments, and problems of school physics in terms of the historical, cultural, political, and social contexts in China. School physics as a major subject was imported into China almost wholesale by the end of the 19th century. Nonetheless, physics was technically procrastinated due to the fact that very few physics terms existed in classical Chinese literature. The first significant impetus toward more emphasis of physics came from a May 4 Movement in 1919 when thousands of Peking students marched in protest against Japan. As the movement spread, many Chinese youth went to the West to study physics, and later became the first generation physicists in China. The China Physics Society was soon established, and the mission of converting physics terms into Chinese was systematically carried out. A second movement, the New Culture Movement, originating from the May 4 Movement, was strengthened through the era of the Nationalist government (1920s-30s). This movement made physics more accessible to the general public, and differentiated physicists from classical scholars. During the Mao regime, school physics was imported from Russia because of China's isolation from the West in 1949. Later, during the Great Leap Forward movement (1958-1960) school physics was simplified to cover readily applicable aspects of the knowledge base. By the end of the Cultural Revolution in 1976, the contents of physics were shrunk into only four components: the steam engine, the internal combustion engine, the electric motor, and the pump. Physics instruction is currently driven at the secondary level by the college entrance examination, and at the tertiary level by the market economy. Ongoing experiments are guided by societal needs and the government's policy in education. Debate regarding the government's role in education was silenced after the Tiananmen Square event, but discontent in the physics society stays high. Contains 46 references. (JRH)
Publication Type: Historical Materials
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association (New York, NY, April 9, 1996).