The Chinese society of the 21st century is at a critical period of transformation. The emergence of globalization and informationalization are the most striking changes of the current Chinese society. The profound change in the social transformation and its penetrating influence on people’s lives has revealed the disadvantages of the present education. For 10 years, the “New Elementary Education”, based on the background of Chinese society, and the demand for school education reform clearly puts forward the necessity of education reform in the period of social transformation, in other words, education should achieve its transformational development. This paper presents a deep research of globalization and informationalization, which are the background of Chinese social transformation. On this basis, the paper examines the implication of “school transformational reform” of the present-day Chinese elementary education, and finally proposes some steps for achieving “school transformational reform”.
Initiated in September 1994, “New Basic Education” first underwent a five-year Exploratory Research phase from September 1994 to May 1999, which was followed by a second five-year Developmental Research phase from September 1999 to May 2004. Thus during the past ten years, “New Basic Education” has undergone a complete research process, including the presentation of the problem, the formation of results, and finally the dissemination, application, perfection, and development of its research. This study has preliminarily explored the transformation of schools, educational theories and educational research methods in China. The author hopes to respond actively to educational changes caused by our transforming society through her professional research. She presents in this paper the retrospective notes of her subjective state, such as her thought process, planning, actions and experiences while conducting and developing “New Basic Education” research.
“New Basic Education” research originated from ten years of theoretical preparation (amassing basic educational theory, the methodology for educational research, and meta-research of educational disciplines), as well as from the author’s personal experiences conducting field research during the past three years and her profound reflections on the nature of the social transformations taking place in late 20th century China. During the Exploratory Research phase, “New Basic Education” research—which consists of reconstructive research on educational theory and practice—regards the rebuilding of educational aims as its theoretical starting point. Additionally, “New Basic Education” research regards schools, which provide nine-year compulsory education as the entire unit of practical research. The research also focused on classroom education, teaching reform, and school management for the experimentation and reform of the schools. As for the core issue of methodology, the crux of the issue lies in how to deal with the relations between theoretical research and practical research and the relationship between theoretical researchers and practical researchers.
During the Developmental Research phase, the author augmented the reconstruction of both theory and practice, thereby heightening self-consciousness of the transformation of contemporary Chinese educational research. Meanwhile, the author began to focus on “value of life” as a consistent value orientation in her new academic path. She regarded “Research-based Reform Practice” as the combination of theory and practice and the new research mode. During the course of this research, the author acquired the ability to develop theory from practice, to formulate new theories, and ultimately to establish the ultimate objective for her personal professional development—to do her utmost to establish the “Life · Practice” School of thought.
Life-Practice Educology: A Contemporary Chinese Theory of Education Ye Lan presents the theory of a contemporary Chinese school of Educology. It consists of two main parts. The first part proposes a fully formulated view on Life-Practice School of Educology and expounds on current thinking in China that denies the independence of educology as a discipline. The second part explains both inherited and new understandings of the Life-Practice School of Educology, covering Chinese traditional culture and the current debate. It further refines the Chinese understanding of Education (jiaoyu 教育) as teaching the knowledge of nature and society, and cultivating a self-conciousness towards life.