student profile: Ms Melissa Law


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Thesis work

Thesis title: How is the Confucian concept of Great Togetherness (Datong) being taught? A case study of this concept is organised in China�s state-education compared to how it is transmitted within Taiwanese families in Australia

Supervisors: Anthony WELCH , Timothy ALLENDER

Thesis abstract:

This research compares formal state-education and mingjian (family and community) learning of the Confucius’ Great Togetherness (Datong) concept. This is important as there is has been no evidence of research regarding Taiwanese families in Australia and the passing down Confucian Togetherness concept nor has there been research regarding this concept in state-school text books that promote Confucius’ Datong concepts. The current Confucian revival is advocated by the party-state of China as she believes it is her mission to steer moral influence. This has led to national education policy changes to increase National Studies of classical literature (Guoxue) that strongly emphasises Confucianism by 35% (Ministry of Education China, 2014). However, there is much scepticism regarding the party-state’s re-adoption of Confucian slogans in politics and in education. The phenomenon of the current Confucius revival on the mainland by the people is more accurately explained by cultural nationalism rather than state nationalism. This cultural nationalism of people’s ethnic Chinese heritage trying to come to terms with their identity with the roots of an ancient civilisation. A lot of traditional Confucian learning and culture was lost during Mao’s Cultural Revolution (1967-77). During this turmoil on the mainland, East-Asian countries on the periphery, particularly Taiwan, served to preserve Confucianism. Hence, this case study traces the voices of the Taiwanese diaspora regarding the way three migrant families situate Confucian values in Australia, and how this compares with the way the Chinese state locates the same values in China’s education policy. I argue that ruxue (Confucius learning) learned from books as part of China’s state-education system has become a recallable knowledge that is significantly different to rujia (Confucianism) values encountered in everyday living as part of living heritage of Confucian Taiwanese families in Australia. Hence Confucian values in lived practise as an intangible culture heritage is an area worthy of study. Research Questions: How is China’s government driving education of Confucian learning by curriculum reforms? What Confucian texts are used in the set of state-prescribed Guoxue textbooks for Years 1-9 and the set of new subject textbook titled “Fine Cultural Traditions of China” for Years 1-9? What is Confucian heritage to Taiwanese diaspora in Australia? How are Confucian traditions ‘lived’ through Taiwanese communities in Sydney today?�br /� Methodology: To answer question 1, this thesis will use document analysis of China’s national education policy and other textual evidence of its flow-on effects. For question 2, I will conduct content analyses of state-prescribed two sets of the most recent Confucian learning related student textbooks. Both sets of student textbooks are printed in Beijing in 2016 by Language and Culture Press. For question 3 and 4, this study will use semi-structured interviews of Taiwan-born people who are permanently living in Australia.�br /� Significance: This research is regarding the voices of Taiwanese diaspora in Australia is significant because it recounts the Taiwanese Confucian heritage taught by elders within families and compares it with China’s current educational reforms. This comparison will shed light into modes of authentic transmission of Confucian learning. Secondly, this research is significant as it will provide new knowledge on Australian Confucianism as it blends and mixes in non-Chinese multi-cultural, multi-faith locality that shapesto add a new nuance to traditional Confucian education.

Note: This profile is for a student at the University of Sydney. Views presented here are not necessarily those of the University.