In 2013, the implementation of a national education plan entered a crucial stage; educational development advanced towards structural optimization and quality improvement. A series of educational policies and projects to benefit the people were introduced or launched at the national level, and local governments took concrete actions, but the progress was unbalanced among regions. Current educational reform has entered a “deep water” period, during which the difficulties in educational reform and development must be overcome by adopting comprehensive reform measures and giving overall considerations to the impact of the economy and society on education. It is also necessary to reinforce top-level design, identify the points for breakthroughs, and make major breakthroughs to move forward in a holistic way. To yield more iconic results as soon as possible, it is necessary to adjust the educational structure, reform the examination and enrollment system, and transform government functions.
This special issue introduction specifies several rationales for its focus on the relationship between teaching practice and student learning. Worldwide teaching reforms show some converging policy patterns with shared assumptions around the role of teaching practices in shaping students’ learning outcomes as their bases. These assumptions and policy patterns are seriously challenged by various countering arguments and critiques. Such a contentious situation demands extensive and solid empirical knowledge for its productive resolution at a conceptual level and for guiding the development of the relevant teaching reforms in different countries. However, such knowledge is not available readily in the exiting literature, which is fragmented and limited, with few studies based on large databases from a comparative perspective involving non-Western countries and regions. It goes on to introduce four studies in the special issue that use international databases and comparative analyses involving different countries/regions and highlights their contributions to the much-needed empirical knowledge. Finally, it calls for further and more extensive research along this line of empirical exploration.
The temple community is an important concept in Suzhou and Songjiang folk religion since the Ming and Qing dynasties. The two major types of temple communities were those surrounding a Tudi Temple (Temple of the god of land), those encircling a Chenghuang Temple (Temple of the City God), and a Mount Tai Temple. Their existence has different meanings. The organizational systems and varying kinds of religious activities were distinct to the different temple communities. However, the division of temple communities is closely related to local administrative divisions. It is worth noticing that temple communities compete and conflict with each other for regional development resources and the benefits of relevant groups. This study of temple communities contributes to our overall understanding of communities of faith in villages.