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ERIC Number: EJ878897
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010
Pages: 5
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-0037-7724
What I Wish My College Students Already Knew about PRC History
Stapleton, Kristin
Social Education, v74 n1 p12-16 Jan-Feb 2010
Different generations of Americans understand China quite differently. This, of course, is true of many topics. However, the turbulence of Chinese history and U.S.-China relations in the 60 years since the founding of the People's Republic of China (PRC) in 1949 has deepened the gaps in generational thinking about China. Those who came of age in the America of the 1950s and 1960s would remember when China seemed like North Korea does today--isolated, aggressive, the land of "brain washing." Those who first learned about China in the 1970s, perhaps, had teachers who were inspired by Maoist rhetoric and believed young people could break out of the old culture of self-interest and lead the world to a more compassionate future. The disillusion that came with more accurate understanding of the tragedies of the Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolution led some people to try to understand China more fully. Many of the author's college-age students, though, seem to have dismissed most PRC history as just another part of the bizarre failed story of world Communism. For current secondary students, the spectacle of the 2008 Olympics and the skyline of bustling Shanghai may make both Mao and the 1989 Tiananmen Square violence seem irrelevant to today's China. These students will encounter disparate views of China among various generations of Chinese and American observers. That poses a challenge to teachers. To help students integrate the disparate accounts, they must teach them to understand the radical transformations that have marked the 60-year history of the PRC. In this article, the author stresses five themes--the significance of Maoism, experiments in governance, economic development, conformity and diversity, and China's foreign relations and global impact--with key events, people, and terms that she would want students to know about and which can form the basis of a stimulating week-long or year-long lesson plan. (Contains 10 notes.)
National Council for the Social Studies. 8555 Sixteenth Street #500, Silver Spring, MD 20910. Tel: 800-683-0812; Tel: 301-588-1800; Fax: 301-588-2049; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: Teachers
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: China; United States