When intellectuals educate: history and geography in the educational project for Chinese workers in France during World War One, 1916–1918
Between 1916 and 1918, a group of Chinese intellectuals opened a school in Paris for Chinese workers who came to Europe in aid of the Allied cause. One of them, Cai Yuanpei, created a textbook based on lectures he gave at the school, which included chapters on moral and intellectual topics. This article focuses on two of these chapters – History and Geography – and situates them within the context of Chinese modern history, curricular and pedagogical debates in mainland China, and the history of textbook publication at the time. In doing so, I argue that Cai Yuanpei utilised these chapters to instil critical thinking skills among workers in a pedagogical move that, while consistent with contemporary discussions on the goals of education, was nevertheless unique in the context of other contemporary approaches to education.