The purpose of this study is to understand the substance of cross-strait civic education through analyzing and comparing current social studies textbooks in cross-strait elementary schools. Text analysis and comparative analysis methods are used. The analyses reveal that, in the wave of globalization, the two sides are both doing civic education reforms. They both value the education of law and order and issues of globalization, along with concerns about students'' physical and mental health as well as civil rights. The course contents often relate to students'' life experiences, emphasizing students'' civic literacy and competence. However, after investigating, I found that the contents of civic education and their approaches of teaching are significantly different.
The nature of Civic education in Taiwan is more towards liberalism and multiculturalism. It values citizens'' individual rights and the spirit of democracy and law and order, emphasizing local identity and multicultural education. It also inclines to depoliticize and localize, lacking national symbols and identity. China, on the other hand, shows a tendency of nationalism. The content of its civic education emphasizes cultivating a sense of national identity the most, hoping the students to love the party, love the country, value collectivity, and stressing the Chinese-style democracy.
The approaches of teaching of the two sides are both oriented in the Citizenship Transmission approach, but they both try to increase Social Sciences approach in the textbooks, hoping students to learn how to think objectively. The Reflective Inquiry Approach is used the least. This study also found that Taiwan’s elementary social studies narrative attempts to be neutral and rational, but it reads like an encyclopedia and expository text. They are bland, lacking fun and liveliness. The textbooks in China appear to be more lively and diverse. We can see how they strive to blend in activities to add to the fun and liveliness. The narrative is also more infectious and affective.
The research findings indicate that even though Taiwan’s social studies textbooks attempt to prepare liberal democratic and multicultural citizenship, the teaching approaches represented in the textbooks are transmission oriented; on the other hand, even though China’s textbooks focus on nationalism, the teaching approaches are more diverse and lively. This is what Taiwan can learn about. I suggest in this study that both sides should increase the Reflective Inquiry approach in their curricula and emphasize critical and reflective thinking in their citizenship education. Taiwan should learn how to make a diverse and lively curriculum, while China needs to reduce its ideological content in order to allow across-strait dialogues.