Journal of East China Normal University(Educational Sciences) ›› 2022, Vol. 40 ›› Issue (2): 17-28.doi: 10.16382/j.cnki.1000-5560.2022.02.002

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The Cultural Studies on Labor Education

Shaoming Xiao   

  1. Center for Contemporary Education Research and Development, South China Normal University, Guangzhou 510631, China
  • Online:2022-02-01 Published:2022-01-21


Labor education is a process of cultural practice in which people transform the external world, realize the cultural value of people’s free and all-round development, and meet people’s material and spiritual cultural needs. The critique of “labor worship”, “labor determinism”, “labor ends” and “human being’s origin in labor” and the debate on labor education in Chinese and foreign education history reveal that culture is the essence of labor and labor education, and their studies require cultural study. “Labor”, “culture” and “education” have common meanings in etymology. Labor education, as cultural practice, is the unity of “civilizing” to transform nature through material and energetic transformation and “education” to transform society through information-language. It contains different levels of culture and its practice synthesis, such as value-norm, behavior-function, language-symbol, knowledge-technology and so on. Labor education has the characteristic of culture materialism. In another word, it has the cultural characteristics of material and broad masses, based on material production and social reality oriented mass culture. The cultural value of labor education lies in that it is the cultural enlightenment to liberate all people, and its knowledge and culture enlightenment to reflect and express the culture of social life. In a word, the cultural essence and practice of labor education fully present the transformation of substance, energy and information, the material transformation and spiritual creation among human, nature and society. It is a historical, realistic and social dialectical relationship and unity between the “education” of labor and the “labor” of education, physical labor education and mental labor education, civilizing and enlightenment, elite and the public, theory and practice.

Key words: labor education, cultural studies, cultural essence, cultural practice, Karl Marx