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What Do Canadian Students Learn about China?—Analysis of “Across the Centuries”

Author(s): Ching-Yao Yang

Journal: Journal of Textbook Research
ISSN 1999-8856

Volume: 1;
Issue: 2;
Start page: 45;
Date: 2008;
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Keywords: textbook | comparative education | Canada | China studies

This study was based on “International Understandings” and the main approach was to review “Across the Centuries”, an 8th grade textbook on Social Studies, Vancouver, Canada. In the book, there is one chapter (30 pages in total) about China, it starts from the end of the Han Dynasty and ends in the early Qing Dynasty. The key points include: 1. Introducing China during the “Chaos” period; 2. How Buddhism was introduced and flourished in China; 3. China’s reconstruction base—national identity; 4. The Great wall as the world’s longest cemetery; 5. Poetry and painting achievements in the Tang and Song Dynasties; 6. Integration of the imperial exam and merit system; 7. The economic growth and development of the “merchant and trader” class during the Tang and Song periods; 8. Outstanding Chinese inventions—printing, compass and gunpowder; 9. Mongolian rulers strengthened China’s contact with the world; 10. Centralization and tyranny of the Ming Dynasty; 11. Zheng He’s voyage to the western oceans; 12. Cultural and population transitions in the early Qing Dynasty.Except for some obvious mistakes or misunderstandings in this textbook, there are some points that need further consideration: 1. Introducing China from the Han Dynasty might be inappropriate; 2. Among the emperors introduced, Sui Wendi appears more frequently; 3. The inconsistency in the naming of emperors; 4. Use of Dhammapada to present Buddhism not so familiar; 5. Some unsuitable examples of Chinese literature; 6. The portrait of Kublai Khan remains in doubt; 7. The source country for the fast-growing rice of the Song Dynasty is debatable.In conclusion, the efforts made in “Across the Centuries” can help us reconsider and learn more about this issue.
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