by Tracy R. Walsh
Cass Sunstein shares new evidence – sure to surprise very few teenagers – that high school really is a form of brainwashing. At least in China:
New research, from Davide Cantoni of the University of Munich and several co-authors, shows that recent curricular reforms in China, explicitly designed to transform students’ political views, have mostly worked. The findings offer remarkable evidence about the potential influence of the high school curriculum on what students end up thinking – and they give us some important insights into contemporary China as well.
Cantoni found that a 2001 curriculum change designed to “form in students a correct worldview, a correct view on life, and a correct value system” largely succeeded: Students who had been taught under the new curriculum were more likely to view China as a democracy and were more skeptical of free markets than those who hadn’t. (The curriculum was introduced to different provinces at different times, creating natural experimental and control groups.)