Australian Journal of Education

Article Title

Rethinking our assumptions about teachers’ job satisfaction in China and the West


This study examined job satisfaction among schoolteachers in Beijing and compared the findings with what is known from the English-language literature. The Chinese teachers, like their Western counterparts, found satisfaction in student progress and a supportive teaching environment but they enjoyed close collaboration with colleagues in executing their duties, welcomed government intervention, and were content to stay out of school governance—arrangements teachers in the West might find unacceptable. The pattern of job satisfaction among Chinese public schoolteachers was similar to the many Western private schoolteachers, and the Chinese private schoolteachers’ pattern of job satisfaction more like that of Western public schoolteachers. The findings reveal considerable commonalities in what is satisfying to the Chinese and Western teachers but also major differences. These contrasting findings underscore cultural diversities among teachers in different societies, point to the need to go beyond labels (public/private) to examine school structures, and raise the possibility that policies proven successful in one situation may not work in another.