XIII Congreso Interuniversitario de Teoría de la Educación
1994, Harry Huang and his wife, Zhang Li, were running Lily Burger, a tiny backpacker restaurant on the banks of the Jin River, in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan Province. The city wasn’t yet the sprawling metropolis of seven million that it is today, and many people still lived in the picturesque wooden houses of the old town. A thousand miles southwest of Beijing, Chengdu was a refuge from China’s big coastal cities, and a gateway to Tibet.
One day, an Australian couple came to the restaurant. The man, thin and ascetic, with piercing eyes, started talking about an idealistic education system that had been introduced in Central Europe in the early twentieth century. Emphasizing the need to help children develop as individuals, it was based on ideas of reincarnation, free will, and individuality. After four days, the couple left, encouraging Harry and Li to stay in touch.
Harry kept thinking about what the Australians had said. For Chinese of his generation—he was born in 1968—it was an unsettled time. In the nineteen-eighties, there had been a sense of great political optimism. After the death of Mao and the end of the Cultural Revolution, the broad-based reforms of Deng Xiaoping had made the future of China seem open. The crushing of student protests in 1989 ended these hopes, and the energy of the Tiananmen generation was diverted into other avenues, such as entrepreneurship. Harry graduated from college in 1992, and roamed China, unsure of what to do with his life. He settled in Chengdu after he met Li, who was an elementary-school teacher there. The Australians’ visit held out the possibility of a goal less self-centered than making money. And their educational philosophy seemed enticing. Li’s job had left her frustrated by the rigid methods and rote learning of Chinese education. [Fuente]