Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Full Marx for Creativity: Reforming Political Education in China

How can academics make courses in ideology more compelling to today’s university students? 

Xiao Wei

SIXTH TONE - Jul 24, 2017

Every year, more than 7 million young people enter colleges across mainland China. Later, nearly 10 percent of them will continue their studies in graduate school. While at university, both undergraduate and graduate students alike must take compulsory classes on political and ideological theory.
In the minds of many Westerners, the very fact that Chinese students take obligatory Marxism classes is tantamount to brainwashing — but that’s a debate for another day. As a professor of Marxism, my primary concern is that the classes are not always interesting to students. In recent years, nearly everything about these courses, from their format to their content, has undergone radical change. Still, reforming the dull, dry, and didactic traditional teaching methods is no easy task.
The courses have undergone numerous changes since 1949. At present, undergraduates are required to take four such classes: Basic Principles of Marxism; Introduction to Mao Zedong Thought and Socialism With Chinese Characteristics; Modern Chinese History; and Ideological and Moral Cultivation and Basics of Law. Master’s students, meanwhile, take a course titled “Socialism With Chinese Characteristics: Theory and Practice,” and doctoral students take one called “Chinese Marxism and the Contemporary World.” In addition, there are several electives available to students seeking a more comprehensive overview of the topic.