This book examines traditional Chinese literacy primers in the context of intellectual involvement in elementary education. It analyses the contents of the primers, in terms of their relationship to the theory and practice of elementary education in late imperial China, their underlying philosophical premises, and what they reveal about elite attitudes towards children and childhood. By highlighting the ways in which these primers aimed to shape children's behaviour and moral outlook, the study points to a close link between elite conceptions of children and Confucian attempts to construct an ideal society. It thus provides a new perspective on pre-modern Chinese society and culture which may be relevant to our understanding of education in contemporary China.
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