Confucianism and contemporary education phenomena

Wai Ying WONG

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There was a trend in academia to attribute particular social phenomena such as economic takeoff in eastern Asian countries in the 1980s to the cultural tradition of those regions. Among the diverse cultural traditions in different countries as well as within one geographic area, Confucianism was identified as the main, if not the sole, cause of the phenomena. Apart from economy, education is another field in which this kind of interpretation was employed. It was claimed that the outstanding performance of Asian learners was a result of Confucian Heritage Culture (CHC) and there were numerous studies of CHC learners. The salient characteristics of learning in the CHC, as described by some scholars, was social-achievement orientation, emphasizing diligence, attribution of success to effort, a competitive spirit, and a strong belief in the maxim “practice makes perfect.”. All of these characteristics were said to have contributed to the outstanding performance of learners. However, since this kind of statement is not only about empirical facts whose verification depends on mere observation, some conceptual analysis should be introduced and assumptions should be examined in order to argue for the above-mentioned claims. The aim of this paper is to make clarifications concerning the concept of Chinese culture in general and Confucianism in particular. Besides, it will scrutinize how, if it does, Confucian culture affects certain cultural phenomena in the realm of education.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationIndigenous culture, education and globalization : critical perspectives from Asia
Number of pages17
ISBN (Print)9783662481585
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2016


  • Asian learner
  • CHC
  • Chinese learner
  • Confucianism
  • Cultural phenomena
  • Cultural spirit
  • Education


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