Teachers College and Modern Chinese Education

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Teachers College, Columbia University
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Center on Chinese Education


Teachers College and Modern Chinese Education

A Cooperative Project of 
the Center on Chinese Education 
and the Milbank Memorial Library
 of Teachers College, Columbia University

The years 1910 through 1940 were a period of extensive interaction between Teachers College and a substantial group of significant Chinese educators. Reflecting the general ferment of modernization and democratization in China, Chinese educators came to Teachers College to gain acquaintance with the latest educational philosophies and methods popular in America, and American educators went to China to learn about progress there and to share their ideas and skills.

Drawn by the world-renowned philosopher John Dewey and by the international educational leader Paul Monroe, a very notable group of Chinese students arrived at Teachers College in the 1910s, including such ultimately famous leaders as Tao Xingzhi, Hu Shi, Zhang Boling, and Chen Heqin. Back in China, these men adapted progressive educational ideas to Chinese conditions, and initiated and developed new educational ideas. They arranged for John Dewey to lecture extensively in China, for Paul Monroe to conduct surveys, to lecture, and to develop institutions to support educational improvement, and for other Teachers College faculty, such as Will McCall and William Heard Kilpatrick, to visit China and make contributions to the movement.

The strong connections among the Teachers College faculty and these leading Chinese educators continued right through the periods of insecurity, war, and occupation that China experienced, ultimately ending by the mid-1940s. The memory and spirit of this era of cooperation lived on, however, and has been reinvigorated in recent years, as evidenced by the work of the Center for Chinese Education.

The photographs in this exhibit were drawn from the archival collection of Professor Paul Monroe and other collections in the Special Collections, Teachers College Library.

The exhibit is a cooperative project of the Center for Chinese Education and the Milbank Memorial Library of Teachers College, Columbia University. It was developed by Xie Lei, David Ment, Althea Bernheim, Bette Weneck, and Lin Lin.