China today is in the midst of sweeping changes. The economy is roaring ahead. Millions of rural families are uprooting themselves in search of better lives in the city. Traditional ways of living, working, and playing are transforming. This image of China often gives an impression of instability, confusion, extreme inequality, and despair, but in fact, every country that has developed—including the United States—has undergone a similar process.
China in Transition introduces students to modern China as a case study of economic development. What are the characteristics of the development process, and why does it occur? How is development experienced by the people who live through it, and how are their lives impacted? How do traditional cultural values—such as China’s emphasis on education—contribute to and/or evolve as a result of modernization? Students examine these questions and others as they investigate the roles that migration, urbanization, wealth, poverty, and education play in a country in transition.
Lesson One introduces students to China and the concept of development through a series of exercises that engage their visual and logical-mathematical intelligences, build their understanding of China’s geography, and acquaint them with some basic economic principles.
Lesson Two introduces students to the various ways and contexts in which poverty is defined and measured, the case of poverty in rural China, and the link between poverty, economic development, and education.
In Lesson Three, students examine China’s rural-to-urban migration, learn about the role of migration in economic development, and identify some of the unique challenges and benefits of migration within Chinese society.
In Lesson Four, students investigate the role and impact of urbanization in economic development and learn about China’s cities and rapid urban growth.
Lesson Five examines the widening wealth gap in Chinese society and the question of whether China can maintain its economic growth into the future. Students learn about the historical role of education in China and consider how education in modern China can provide opportunity and create an innovative workforce.
The photographs on the curriculum cover were provided by PH Yang Photography,