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ICI Communication║Professor Cui Yunhuo Discusses Challenges, Opportunities, and the Future of Curriculum Reform in China at Harvard Graduate School of Education


On March 7, 2024, Professor Cui Yunhuo, Director of the Institute of Curriculum and Instruction at East China Normal University, and Associate Professor Shi Yuchen, Assistant Director, delivered a report titled "Challenges, Opportunities, and the Future of Curriculum Reform in China's Basic Education" to faculty and students at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. This presentation was part of the Harvard Graduate School of Education's "Comparative Education: China and the United States" graduate course, with Dr. Deng Ziyun as the course instructor and the inviter for this report.

The event attracted nearly a hundred scholars and students from Harvard University, Yale University, East China Normal University, and many other institutions. From the perspective of a participant in top-level design of China's basic education curriculum reform, Professor Cui offered an in-depth yet accessible narrative of the stories behind the curriculum reforms, triggering heated discussions and reflections among the attendees.

Professor Cui noted that over the past two to three decades, China's basic education has achieved remarkable accomplishments. After 70 years of effort, China has successfully popularized nine-year compulsory education, established a relatively complete and vibrant curriculum system, and promoted the democratization of curriculum. Chinese students have a solid foundation and have achieved remarkable results in the PISA assessment, ranking first in the world.

However, China's basic education currently faces new challenges, such as excessive learning burdens, relatively singular learning content, and a lack of practical courses, which are becoming increasingly prominent. Professor Cui also shared his experiences in participating in the formulation of China's latest compulsory education curriculum scheme and standards, including the difficulties, controversies, and how they were addressed. Moreover, he explored how American curriculum reforms, like the 1922 New School System and the Common Core State Standards, offer insights for China's educational reforms and discussed China's current needs and gaps in curriculum, teaching, and teacher training.

In conclusion, Dr. Deng Ziyun and Dr. Shi Yuchen invited the attendees to look forward to future exchange and visitation projects between Chinese and American universities, aiming to provide more opportunities for educators from both countries to enter each other's primary and secondary classrooms and learn from each other's educational systems. The seminar ended successfully with enthusiastic questions and discussions from the audience!

Professor Cui Yunhuo's sharing of stories from China's curriculum reform was highly recognized by the attendees, significantly expanding the international influence of China’s curriculum reform research and practice.