Chinese Schools



Figure 1.--Chinese school children in the 2000s all wear uniforms. The uniforms, however, are quite different. This is a school group in their summer uniforms on an outing in Dalian, a city in northeastern China near Korea. (It is close to what used to be called Port Arthur.)

Chinese school children in the 2000s all wear uniforms. The uniforms are seasonal, depending on where the school is located in China. The summer uniforms usually consist of short pants and a shirt in the same style, sometimes in quite bright colors. Sailor collars are frequent for girls. One favourite style is a colored suit with piping in white or a contrasting color. Children used to wear their school uniforms with red Young Pioneer scarves, but this is now less common. There are only a limited number of school types in China, in part because China's Communist Government maintains a monopoly on education.

Chronology

HBC has very limited information on chronological trends in Chimese school uniforms. We note some children in Chunking during the 1930s wearing plain long pants uniforms. We do not know how common that was in China. China at the time was already fighting the Japanese in what was to be the prelude to World War II. We also have the information here about modern Chinese school uniforms in 2000.

Activities

Chinese school children engage in the same activities as other children around the world. We do not have very many images from Chinese schools to know very much about the different acruvities and the clothing associated with them. We hope to expand thisxsection as we acquire more images from Chinese schools.

School Types

There are only a limited number of school types in China. The schools which have dominated Chinese history are tradition schools. We do not yet know much about them other than other than they educated tge elite and only boys. The frst modern schools in China were the Christian mission schools. The mission schools played an important role in the moderinization of China. Whith the advent of the Republic (1911), China began building a modern public school system. The Chinese Communist victory put the schools in the hands of the Communist who greatly expanded the attention to education, although for many years it was a highly politicized system with highly variable quality. The Government in recent years has greatly imoroved educational standards. The Communist insist on maintaining an educational monopoly and does not permit private schools.

Uniforms

Chinese school children in the 2000s all wear uniforms. The uniforms, however, are quite different. There is no national style, rather each school selects its on uniform. There appear to be regional differences. A HBC reader who has provided information has only been to Peking, Dalian, Suzhou and Shanghai. These are all big cities (between 1 and 15 million) in the prosperous eastern part of the country. I don’t think they are representative of the rural areas of the West and South. Some schools in the less prosperous areas may not require uniforms. Chinese school uniforms tend to be basic and quite casual in style. Some are rather like gym uniforms. The summer uniforms usually consist of short pants and a shirt in the same style, sometimes in quite bright colours. Sailor collars are frequent for girls. One favorite style is a colored suit with piping in white or a contrasting colour. Children used to wear their school uniforms with red Young Pioneer scarves, but this is now much less common.

Seasonality

The uniforms are seasonal, depending on where the school is located in China. Chinais a large country. Northern China can be quite cold in the winter. Southern China bordering on Vietnam has a tropical climate. The children's school uniforms reflect these differences.

Gender

China has a long history of education, meaning educating the elite and primarily for the civil service. And this mean boys. Girl were not educated in China. Of course this was the general pattern in the ancient world. As was often the case, boys taught at home might have sisters who were inckuded in the lessons. Unlike Europe, girls were not educated in Chuna until the 20th century. This basic pattern was even stronger in China than in other societies. The Chinese believed that a woman's virtue lay with her lack of knowledge. An educated woman would be more likely to questiin and argue with her husband. This basic attitide is why foot-binding was so prevalent among women and continued throughout the 19th century, at least among the upperckasses. Peasant girls were unlikely to be subjected to this because thaey has to work. The idea of educating girls did not appear in China until the arrival of the Europeans. European (mpstly British) andAmerican missionaries began foinding missions which included schools (19th century). They usually allowed girls to attend the schools, but even here many parents did not allow their girls to attend classes. The missionaries also founded modern schools including the first schools for girls in all of Chinese history. Huge changes came with the 20th century. Republican forces overthrew the Imperial system (1912). And the country began building a public school system. The chinese at first look to Japan as a model. Schools were opened all over th country. Fundin at first was limited. At firt many parents continued to keep their girls at home, especially in rural areas. The Government did not attack such deeply held social attitudes. Both scocial customs and economics were factors. And the chaos of the Civil War and World War II limited China's ability to build a modern school system. This changed with the Communist victory (1949). Along with huge economic errors, hum=man rights abuses, and wide-spread arrests and executiins, there was for the first time a dgree of order throughout the country. And China built a hige public school systems in which both girls and boys were educated. Unlike the Reoublicn Govrnment, the Communist attacked many traditional social customs, as well as many individuals who came from wealthy, merchant, or landlord families. And one of the traditions was attcked was not educating girls. Parents coukd get into trouble for not sending their girls to school. The Communist Party restricted leadership roles for women, but most other limitaions in women dusappeared. The primary limitations on women after the Revolution was the result of Communist economic failure. The Revolution did, however, massively expand educational opportunities. And the market reforms began to create economic opportunities as the economy expanded (1990s).

Individual Schools

China has a long history of education and scholarship. We havem however, very little information on individual Chinese schools. The first modern schools were founded by European missionaries (19th century). We have no information before the 20th century. We note a photograph of a European school founded by missionarles -- St Andrews School, we think about 1910. A reader has sent a image of the school in Dazhai, a village in a mountainous area of northern China. It was taken in 1966, when the Cultural Revolution was beginning. The pupils were not wearing the characteristic clothing that is often associated with the period. Dazhai is a rural zone. Most of the children are barefoot. We wonder if that became an issue during the Cultural Revolution.







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Related Chronolgy Pages in the Boys' Historical Web Site
[The 1880s] [The 1930s] [The 1940s] [The 1930s] [The 1940s] [The 1950s] [The 1960s] [The 1970s] [The 1980s]



Related Style Pages in the Boys' Historical Web Site
[Long pants suits] [Short pants suits] [Socks] [Eton suits] [Jacket and trousers] [Blazer] [School sandals]



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Created: October 1, 2001
Last updated: 2:24 PM 6/17/2017