Huang Yanpei’s View of Folk Culture as a Person-Making Tool

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date



Observers of the Chinese educational scene have commented recently that the nation’s schools tend to concentrate on the instrumental objectives of preparing students for employment or socialization rather than the goal of developing ‘well-rounded, self-aware ethical and spiritual beings’ who have ‘a genuine passion for and interest in learning’ (Zhao, 2013a, p. 492; also see Zhao and Deng, Chapter 1). As Professor Zongyi Deng has put it, employing terminology that was developed in 2008 by Gert Biesta in an important essay calling upon educators to re-examine the ultimate purposes of education, the ‘subjectification function’ of schooling, the act of forging a unique individual ‘with autonomy, critical thinking, and creativity,’ has been neglected as Chinese educators have focused primarily on fostering the ‘acquisition of knowledge, skills and attitudes required for jobs’ (the qualification function of schooling) and encouraging the ‘development of values and norms necessary for becoming a member of existing social and cultural orders’ (the socialization function) (Deng, 2013, p. 560; Biesta, 2009, pp. 39-41; also see Deng, Chapter 11).1 The antidote to this imbalance that is often proposed is to re-focus schooling on its subjectification or person-making function; that is, its major objective should be the cultivation of individuals whose intellectual, moral and spiritual qualities are fully developed.


Chapter in Re-envisioning Chinese education: The meaning of person-making in a new age.

eBook ISBN: 9781315745435