Mao zedongs education thoughts and its influence on chinese scholastic physical education (1917-1966)

Por: Shijun Cheng.

Athens 2004: Pre-olympic Congress

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Mao Zedong’s thoughts have been the source and foundation of political thought of modern China since 1949. Mao`s guiding ideology about education and physical education as well as his view of "health first" which were put forward in 1950s’ have been the guideline of Chinese scholastic physical education reform nowadays. In order to understand correctly and assess it’s effect on modern Chinese scholastic physical education, we select this subject as our series research projects. With 10 months’ work and 97 reference literatures, 45,000 words report has been given.


Analytical method of literature and analytical comparison of historical process are adopted in the research.
Mao Zedong published an article " Research of the Physical Education " in 1917. In this paper he showed his worry about the corrupt nation, declined folkways and people’s fragile health. He demonstrated the truth that the body likes "a car carrying knowledge and a room containing virtue" [1]. Mr. Mao Zedong who had already become the leader of communist party of China put forward an idea that the tenet of Chinese national civilization and education should be democratic in the period of democratic revolution in 1940. He said "China must set up it’s own culture and education system, and it must be national, scientific and popular [2]. Mao and his party established P.R.China at Oct.1, 1949. In 1950, He put forward the suggestion of "health first"[3] for school teaching due to the hard work coming with the serious nutritional inadequacy of students caused by the economic crisis. Because Chinese government had been following the USSR’s patterns in nearly every aspect from 1951-1955, as a result, the PTWD (preparatory Training for Works and Defense), which replaced the physical education classes and extracurricular activities, and its methods were carried out inside or outside P.E. classes for all Chinese students except the lower classes students in primary school [4]. Hence, the principle that the teaching material and methods for school physical education should be uniformed by central government was set from then on. Mr. Mao dissatisfied with western and USSR’s education ideas and methods, so even he launched out education revolution twice in 1958 and in 1966, as a by- product of the revolution, Mr. Mao animadverted on Confucius’ (educationist in ancient China more than 2000 years ago) education thoughts which made the school education and physical education in China suspended in nearly 10 years. Even though Mr. Mao withdrew from the historical stage, his "health first" and the tenet of uniformed management still exist [5].


Based on the traditional Chinese culture and custom as well as the worship to great people, Mao’s thought still influence Chinese scholastic physical education reform greatly in recent years [6].


[1]. Liang Jianfeng. (2001). Social sciences Journal of colleges of Shanxi. Volume 13. 6-7.
[2]. Mao Zedong(1991). Anthology of Mao Zedong. Volume 2. 662-771.
[3]. Liang Junxiong.(2001). Journal of Physical Education. Volume 8. 11-13
[4]. Liu Xinlan. & Lin Huasheng. (1997). Journal of Xi`an Institute of Physical Education. Volume 14. 16-20
[5]. Wang Lei. (1998). Study of Liaoning higher Education. Volume 97. 57-60
[6]. Zhang Wei. (2001). Study of Chinese higher Education. Volume5. 60-61




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