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History of Education Society

Review: [untitled] Author(s): Eileen H. Tamura Source: History of Education Quarterly, Vol. 41, No. 4 (Winter, 2001), pp. 547-548 Published by: History of Education Society Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3218258 Accessed: 24/10/2010 18:32
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entific investigation of language.At this point, the Scottish influence waned, replaced by the German model, and Court takes his bow.

Weili Ye. SeekingModernityin China'sName: ChineseStudentsin the United States, 1900-192 7. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2001.

330pp.Cloth $49.50.
In SeekingModernity, Weili Ye examines a hitherto unexplored area of Chinese and American histories, namely the experiences of extraordinaryChinese men and women who ventured to the United States to study during the early decades of the twentieth century. This small minority of brilliant, pioneering young adults overcame considerable obstacles with a determination and perseverancethat enabled them to learn and master the English language and then graduate from American colleges and universities with honors. This was a period in American history of strong anti-Asian hostility, when exclusion laws barred Chinese laborers from entering the country, when the San Franciscoschool board segregated Chinese children from other students, and when most Chinese in the United States worked in lowwage jobs. While attending United States colleges, the Chinese students formed associations in which they conducted meetings, held elections, debated issues, and otherwise engaged in democratic forms of participation modeled after associations they observed in the United States. They saw their activities as self-imposed training for what they hoped and expected for their homeland, a republicanway of life in a newly emerging China. Their intent was to educate their compatriotson selected aspects of American life, such as democratic practices, professionalism, and new forms of personal and social relationships, which they believed would help China survive in a turbulent, modern world. But as China disintegratedinto chaos (1916-20), the students became disheartened.Without ongoing political reform efforts in their home country, many lost their idealism, and their own experiments in political participation declined dramatically. While political reform was on the minds of many of the earlier students of this generation, their larger impact after they returned to China was academic and professional. Challenging deep-seated ideas rooted in the Confucian ideal of the generalist scholar-official, returning students promoted professional expertise and specialization. By the 193Os,they had emerged-notwithstanding their own confusion and frustration-as a group of relatively autonomous intellectuals.


Historyof EducationQuarterly

Perhaps even inore remarkablethan the men were the women who studied in United States colleges. They returned to China as medical doctors, educators,and other professionalsat a time when most Chinese women had no schooling at all and very few Chinese men had studied abroad. The author provides helpful historical context on what was happening in the United States during the decades when these Chinese students lived in the country. If the author had likewise given more background on the periods in Chinese history discussed in the narrative-the last couple of decades of the Qing dynasty (1890s-191 1), the years of the early Chinese republic (1912-16), and the warlord period (1916-27)-readers less familiarwith modern Chinese history would better appreciate the context in which this story unfolds. Yet this is a minor point. More importantly, this study makes a valuable contribution to our understanding of a previously unexamined group who came from the same generation that produced Mao Zedong, Deng Xiaoping, and Chiang Kai-shek. Examining both Chinese and English language sources-newspaper and magazine articles of the period, and student publications, letters, memoirs, and diaries-as well as oral histories of former students, Ye provides a window into the lives of a cadre of American-educated Chinese who returned to their homeland to become leaders in government, industry, and academia,and who introduced new ideas that contributed to China's emerging modernity. At a time when transnationalismhas become a way of life for many, readers of this study, generalists and specialists alike, will be enlightened on the ways in which transnationalstudents of an earlier period negotiated between the contrasting ways of China and the United States.

Achim Leschinsky and Karl Ulrich Mayer (eds.). The Comprehensive School Experiment Revisited: Evidence from WesternEurope.New York: Peter Lang, 1999. 2 16pp. Cloth $3 7.95. The essaysin this volume make an important contribution to the discussion of whether structuraland curricularreforms in public education can be an effective mechanism for achievinga greaterdegree of equalityof educational opportunity by presenting the results of recent investigations that evaluate the social impact of the reforms in secondary education in Britain, France, Germany, and Sweden in the 1960s and 1970s. The contributors-historians and sociologists of education-examine the extent to which these reforms reduced the social inequalities that were a striking characteristicof the traditional educationalsystems in western Europe. For readersunfamiliarwith public education on that continent, this book could present a particularchal-