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Introduction (g)—Impassioned Communities Introduction (h)—History, Language, and Culture, c.1985
|[a] Shanghai today RF|
|[b] Taipei today RF|
My roots are in China.
I love China
With a love that runs deep.
It is perhaps less surprising that we find many stories about he founding heroes of the Republic in these textbooks. There are stories about Sun Yat-sen in his youth, and several about Jiang Jieshi (Chiang Kai-shek), the president of the Republic until his death in 1975. One shows a young Jiang in army school standing up for his homeland when a Japanese teacher criticizes China.
The contents that outside observers might find most startling, however, are the directly political stories that are included in every grade level. For example, the 1985 third-grade reader shows an emaciated man surrounded by skulls and a sign that reads "People's Commune." The text is titled "The Place Where There is No Sun," and describes life for our "unfortunate brethren on the mainland." Another third-grade text shows a large drawing of two children giving away piggy banks. The text begins:
In December 1978, American President Carter suddenly broke ties with
our country; every freedom loving Chinese (citizen) was enraged.
|[c] Kaohsiung today RF|
Despite the directly political educational messages during the first four decades of Republican rule in Taiwan, the texts were no less serious for that. Even today, after major curricular changes (none of the stories mentioned above survives in today's elementary school readers), adults who grew up with the older books often say that they were tougher and did a better job of teaching language, history, and culture. Be that as it may, the clear message is that education has a great deal to do with creating identity, and the Ministry of Education in the Republic of China took that work very seriously back in the day (c. 1985). Even though the message is much more nuanced today, the work of identity creation—now with a greater emphasis on Taiwanese history, language, and culture—continues.
|[d] Hong Kong today RF|
Politically, Hong Kong textbooks have changed somewhat over the last few decades, but not nearly as much as those in Taiwan. The British influence from a century and a half of colonial presence (which only ended in 1997) can still be felt, but there is a distinct quality of Chinese cultural appreciation in the texts that was more muted in the past. Indeed, it can be said that today's textbooks in Hong Kong reflect the generally—but let's not push this word too far—positive attitude that many Hong Kong residents have taken toward Chinese stewardship. The attitude is not unambiguous, however, and the challenges for educators lie in building a Hong Kong identity that is both global—reflecting, in particular, the British past—and Chinese.
 Guomin xiaoxue guoyu keben [國民小學國語課本], 1985, 2a.27.
 Guomin xiaoxue guoyu keben [國民小學國語課本], 1985, 3a.25.
|[e] Wither... RF|
Reading Zhuangzi one day, I dreamed of butterflies. Next thing I knew, I was buying textbooks. It's a long story.