Proceedings of the 3rd International Conference on Education Studies: Experience and Innovation (ICESEI 2022)

Research on the Cultivation of History Teaching Based on Historical Evidence: Taking Lesson 20 Politics, Economy and Culture in the Period of the Northern Warlords as an Example (Progress and Retrogression Co-Exist)
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The demonstration of historical materials is to promote students to further broaden their historical perspective during the learning process of the history course, and make use of historical materials obtained for discrimination and application, so that students can use credible historical materials and reproduce real history during the learning process of the history subject. The most important feature of historical thinking is to attach importance to evidence, and only when there is evidence can people draw conclusions, which is positive consciousness. Adhering to the spirit of “no evidence without proof” and “no evidence without words” with help of a collection of documents and historical materials, under the guidance of teachers, students can learn to use historical materials to study, discuss and other learning methods, take historical materials as empirical materials, and verify and judge historical conclusions through the interpretation of historical materials, which not only helps students to reconstruct their understanding of the nature of historical knowledge, but also trains their ability to fully handle and use historical information, cultivating their habit of critical thinking and the spirit of inquiry, as well as achieving the purpose of effectively cultivating and implementing the historical material demonstration literacy.


Link 1: [Teacher student interaction]

[Teacher's question 1] Hello, students, if we want to study and learn the new atmosphere of economic and social life in the early years of the Republic of China, how should we start?

[Students' answers 1] We should have historical materials to study this content. The best historical materials are not isolated.

[Teacher's comments] Very good. This is the saying that we often refer to “isolated cases without proof” in historical research. At the same time, learning history should have the awareness and quality of historical evidence. — The first time echoed the lecture theme.

[Teacher's display] Documents, pictures and other multiple historical materials confirm and explain the new climate of economic and social life in early years of the Republic of China. Examples are as follows:

Literature and historical data 1: From 1912-1916, the Beijing government issued as many as 86 regulations, articles of association, detailed rules and regulations on the development of industry Important laws and regulations related to industry and commerce include: “Interim Articles of Arts and Crafts Awards”, “Company Regulations”, “Company Registration Rules”, “General Rules for Merchants”, “Commercial Registration Rules”, “Chamber of Commerce Law”, “Trademark Law”, etc.

— Zhang Jingru, “Changes of Chinese Society During the Period of Northern Warlords” [1].

Documentary and historical data 2: According to the Chronological Table of Industrial Companies Registered by the Ministry of Agriculture and Commerce before and after the European War, 146 industrial companies were registered before the war (August 1914), with a total capital of 41,148,205 yuan. From August 1914 to 1920, 272 companies were newly registered, with a capital of 117,434,500 yuan. There are many industries involved, especially the textile industry and flour industry, which are related to people's food and clothing, are developing fastest.

— Yuan Xiang, Li Xixian, et al., Chinese Yearbook Section 1 [2].

Documentary and historical data 3: When Zhang Jian was the chief agricultural and commercial officer of the Beijing government of the Republic of China, he made great efforts to promote the development of industry, and at the same time, he also attached great importance to the transformation of traditional agriculture, and put forward the concept of modernity to transform traditional agriculture... From 1914 to 1920, about 40 land reclamation companies were established in northern Jiangsu; There were 64 land reclamation companies established in Guangxi from 1912 to 1916; There were 137 agricultural reclamation companies founded in the three eastern provinces from 1913 to 1920, with a total paid in capital of more than 15.8 million yuan; Since the founding of the People's Republic of China in Fujian Province, “agricultural reclamation companies have emerged one after another”. In 1916, there were 16 major agricultural reclamation companies. There were 257 land reclamation companies in the above-mentioned provinces and regions before 1920 alone. If other regions are added, the number of land reclamation companies should be more, with a significant increase compared with the previous years, and the capital amount and reclamation scale also have a significant expansion.

— Yu Heping, “Zhang Jian and His Effort to Modernize Agriculture Early in the Republic of China” [3].

Link 2: [Teachers guide students to get familiar with and understand the above historical materials and analyze them]

Link 3: [Teacher student interaction]

[Teacher's question 2] Students, can the above three historical materials help us to study the economic development in the early years of the Republic of China?

[Students' answers 2] Yes, yes.

[Teacher's question 3] How do above three historical documents reflect the economic development in the early years of the Republic of China?

[Students' answers 3] In the early years of the Republic of China, the economy was developing continuously.

[Teacher's question 4] Students, do economic development belong to the progress or regression of this era?

[Students' answers 4] Progress. The second time echoed the lecture theme.

Link 4: [Teacher's display] Historical materials of pictures (Fig. 1).

Figure 1

People's social life in the early years of the Republic of China.

Link 5: [Teacher student interaction]

[Teacher's explanation] The above pictures are historical materials reflecting the new atmosphere of social life in the early years of the Republic of China.

[Teacher's question 5] Students, please compare the left picture with the right picture. Can you see what changes have taken place in people's social life in the early years of the Republic of China?

[Students' answers 5] ① Women's clothing has changed — women's clothing in the early years of the Republic of China tends to be modern; ② In the early years of the Republic of China, women no longer bound their feet; ③ Men's clothing has also changed — men's clothing in the early years of the Republic of China also tends to be modern; ④ In the Republic of China, men no longer wore braids, but instead cut them off, and their hairstyles tended to be modern;

[Teacher's question 6] Do changes in women's and men's clothing and hair styles reflect whether people's social life in the early years of the Republic of China has progressed or regressed?

[Students' answers 6] Progressed. The third time echoed the lecture theme.

Link 6: [Teacher's display] Pictures, historical materials and chronology of events (Fig. 2).

Figure 2

Comparison of Yuan Shikai before and after cutting braids.

Link 7: [Teacher student interaction]

[Teacher's explanation] Just now, we have analyzed and learned the new atmosphere of economic and social life in the early years of the Republic of China from the macro level of society, and learned that the continuous development of social economy and the emergence of many new phenomena in social life at that time have brought progress to the whole society, Then we will focus on the micro level of society, that is, we will select the important people who had important influence and could control the political situation at that time to analyze the social status quo at that time.

[Teacher's display] Two pictures of people

[Teacher's question 7] Who are these pictures about?

[Students' answers 7] Yuan Shikai.

[Teacher's explanation] Well, the answer is correct. What is cutting-braids Yuan Shikai doing now? Let's analyze it through the timeline.

[Teacher's display] Chronicle of events — What Yuan Shikai did

Chronology of events:

March 1912 – Yuan Shikai was sworn in as the second interim president of the Republic of China in Beijing.

March 1913 to November 1913 – Assassinate Song Jiaoren, suppress the Second Revolution, and dissolve the Kuomintang.

January 1914 to May 1914 – The National Assembly was dissolved, the Constitution of the Republic of China was promulgated, and the Senate appointed by Yuan Shikai was established.

September 1914 to December 1914 – The Order of Confucius Worship was issued, and the Law on the Amendment of the Election of the President was promulgated, which stipulated that the president's term of office was ten years, unlimited re-election, re-election is allowed, and the right to elect successors.

May 1915 – Signing of the “Four Treaties between China and Japan”.

[Teacher's question 8] Analyze what Yuan Shikai has done. What does Yuan Shikai want to do?

[Students' answers 8] Although Yuan Shikai cut his braids, from what he did, he wanted to be emperor.

[Teacher's summary] Just as the so-called tangible “braids” are easy to cut, the invisible “braids” are hard to remove: Yuan Shikai wanted to be the emperor and restore the imperial system.

[Teacher's explanation] We will use a historical document to confirm the event that Yuan Shikai plotted to restore and become emperor.

Documentary and historical data 4: On 11 December 1915, the Senate held a meeting and held the so-called general vote to resolve the state system. The votes cast by 1993 provincial representatives... “completely consistent” and “honoring the great President Yuan Shikai as the emperor of the Chinese Empire”. The Senate immediately wrote “Persuasion” in the name of “General Representative of the National Congress” on the same day. Yuan Shikai hypocritically returned the letter of persuasion on the same day and said: “If the imperial system is acting on its own, it is a breach of the oath, which is not self-explanatory of the faith.” On the same day, the Senate held another meeting and decided to “re persuade”. Within 15 minutes, it “drafted” the book for the second time with more than 2000 words and submitted it that night. The next morning, Yuan Shikai issued an order to recognize the throne. On the 13th, he received the pilgrimage from all officials, granted a large reward, and ordered to ban activities against the imperial system.

— Li Kan, Li Shiyue, et al., “Modern Chinese History (1840-1919)” [4].

[Teacher's question 9] Does Yuan Shikai's act of restoring the imperial system belong to historical progress or retrogression at that time?

[Student answer 9] Yuan Shikai's behavior is against the historical trend and a social regression. — The fourth time echoed the lecture theme.

[Teacher's summary] Yuan Shikai's perversion aroused the dissatisfaction of the whole society. Yuan Shikai's subordinates also left him one after another. In addition, General Cai E raised his arms and the country's heroes revolted against Yuan Shikai, and finally launched a vigorous national defense movement. The result of waiting for Yuan Shikai will eventually be his doom.


“Situation” is the key word of the new curriculum standard, and “focusing on problem solving in the new situation” is the main principle of the academic level test proposition. Teachers can follow the educational rules, improve students' learning ability, cultivate and improve students' core quality of the history discipline, and enable students to gradually form the key ability with the characteristics of history discipline through the study of history curriculum. Of course, only under the consideration of the problem can the historical material situation flash the quality of historical material demonstration. As Karl Popper said, “The growth of knowledge always starts with problems and ends with problems” [5].

Link 8: [Teacher's display] Pictures and documents (Fig. 3).

Figure 3

Schematic diagram of the separatist regime of the Northern Warlords.

Documentary and historical data 5: Duan's support of Li, is because Li was honest and easy to compromise, the cabinet system could be implemented... Li has no power to back him up. Once he stays in a high position, he would be easy to be dealt with.

— The Struggle and Decline of the Northern Warlords in Anhui [6].

Documentary and historical data 6: After Li (Yuanhong) took over the presidency, his attitudes towards the current major issues changed never asking, to wanting to ask, and then to asking more. He thought that he can ignore minor matters and must deal with major ones.

Duan (Qirui) was already suffering from a Congress that made him unable to act arbitrarily on all issues. How can he bear it now when a president is constrained by something. He sometimes got angry with his followers and said, ‘I asked him to sign and seal, not to press him on my head!’

— Tao Juyin, “History of the Northern Warlords' Reign” [7].

Link 9: [Teacher student interaction]

Through the display and analysis of the historical materials in the above pictures and documents, teacher can led the students back to the situation of warlord separatism and the restoration of the imperial system at that time.

[Teacher's question 10] Boys and girls, what did the Northern Warlords and Aisin Gioro Puyi do after Yuan Shikai's death reflect the social progress or social regression at that time?

[Student Answer 10] Regression. The fifth time echoed the lecture theme.


Link 10: [Teacher's display] Historical materials of pictures and documents.

Figure 4

Chen Duxiu.

Documentary and historical data 7: Although most of our Chinese people are not against the republic, their minds are really full of old ideas of the imperial era... These corrupt ideas are all over the country, so we should sincerely consolidate the republican system, and we must completely clean up old ideas such as the ethical literature against the republic. Otherwise, not only can republican politics not be carried out, but the signboard of republicanism cannot be hung up.

— Chen Duxiu, 1916, “Old Thought and State System” [8] (Fig. 4).

[Teachers' summary] The social situation in the early years of the Republic of China has formed a huge contrast with the hope aroused by the 1911 Revolution. Intellectuals represented by Chen Duxiu stood at the forefront of the times and were insensitive to the social retrogression and national ideology. They could no longer contain their dissatisfaction and issued their inner cries, which led to the New Culture Movement.

Document 8: We now believe that only these two gentlemen can cure all the darkness in China's politics, morality, academia and ideology. If we support these two gentlemen, we will not refuse all political oppression, social attacks, laughing and scolding, even bleeding.

— Chen Duxiu, Statement of Defense of Crime, New Youth, Volume 6, No. 1 [9].

Link 11: [Teacher student interaction]

[Teacher's question 11] From the above materials, we can see that, under the inspiration of Chen Duxiu, the attraction of President Cai Yuanpei's reform idea of “free thinking and inclusiveness”, and at Peking University, a group of advanced intellectuals have found two most favorable weapons to save the people at that time. What are these two weapons?

[Students' answers 11] Science and democracy.

[Teacher's question 12] How to use these two weapons?

[Students' answers 12] Use science to fight against feudal superstition; Use democracy to oppose feudal autocracy.

[Teacher's question 13] The presentation of these two weapons reflects the intellectuals' desire for the times at that time. Is the spread of such ideas progressive or retrogressive to the society at that time?

[Students' answers 13] It is the idea of progress. — The sixth time echoed the lecture theme.

In order to further explain the content of the New Culture Movement and achieve silent enlightenment and education, the author selected the ideas of Lu Xun and Hu Shi, the leaders of the New Culture Movement, as examples, and carried out in detail with pictures and historical documents, as shown below:

Documentary and historical materials 9: I opened the history and found that there is no age in this history. On every page of this history, the words “benevolence, justice and morality” were written. I couldn't sleep well. I looked carefully at the words in the middle of the night, and then I saw that there were two words in the book, “Eat people”.

— Lu Xun, “A Madman's Diary” [10] (Fig. 5).

Figure 5

Lu Xun.

Literature and historical materials 10: “It is precisely because the Confucian signboard has been hung on the ethical and legal system of cannibalism for 2000 years, so this Confucian signboard, whether it is an old shop or a fake one, can't help but take it down, smash it, and burn it!”

— “Wu Yu's Records” Preface by Hu Shi [11].

[Teacher's question 14] From the above materials, we can draw the opinion of Lu Xun and Hu Shi in the New Culture Movement?

[Students' answers 14] Oppose Confucianism and feudal etiquette.

[Teacher's explanation] Students, oppose Confucianism, oppose the feudal etiquette, that is, oppose the idea of feudal autocracy.

Documentary and historical data 11: The ancient people believed in ghosts, gods, gods, heaven, pure land, and hell because they wanted to seek emotional comfort at the expense of intellectual requirements, relying solely on faith and not asking for evidence. Modern science could not rely on confidence. Science does not belittle emotional comfort; science only requires that all beliefs must be able to withstand rational judgment and have sufficient evidence. Those without sufficient evidence can only be skeptical.

Documentary and historical materials 12: The first feature of western modern civilization in terms of spirit is science. The fundamental spirit of science lies in the pursuit of truth. Lifetime is forced by the environment, dominated by habits, and constrained by superstition and prejudice. Only truth can set you free, make you strong, and make you wise. Only truth can make you break all the restrictions in your environment, make you survey the sky, make you shrink from the earth, and make you afraid of the sky, afraid of the earth, and be an upright person.

— Hu Shi, “Our Attitude towards Western Modern Civilization” [12] (Fig. 6).

Figure 6

Hu Shi.

[Teacher's question 15] From the above materials, we can draw what is Hu Shi's proposition in the New Culture Movement?

[Students' answer 15] Oppose superstition and advocate science.

[Teacher's question 16] Is the spread of Lu Xun and Hu Shi's ideas progressive or backward for the society at that time?

[Students' answer 16] Progress. The seventh time echoed the lecture theme.

[Teacher's explanation] With the strong promotion of New Youth, publications supporting the New Culture Movement have been published all over the country, making the national newspapers and periodicals take on a new look. The slogans of women's liberation, freedom of marriage and family revolution also made the content of this movement more extensive and profound. The author selects typical publications' pictures, figures' pictures and deeds to display.

Figure 7

The covers of the publications supporting the New Culture Movement at that time.

Figure 8

The representatives of women in the new era.

[Teacher's question 17] Students, the first two pictures of the historical materials above were the covers of the publications (Fig. 7) supporting the New Culture Movement at that time. Can they be used as strong evidence to study the New Culture Movement?

[Students discuss and answer 17] Yes, yes.

[Teacher's explanation] The last two pictures show five women in the new era, Lin Huiyin, Lu Xiaoman, Zhou Xuan, Ruan Lingyu and Xia Meng (Fig. 8). They were all influenced by the New Culture Movement and new ideas, and were representatives of women in the new era at that time. At that time, they all challenged and resisted the feudal ethics with their own actual behavior, advocating women's movement, freedom of marriage, family revolution, etc. Later, they made outstanding contributions to the literary, artistic and film and television circles, showing their charm to the people at that time and in the future.

[Teacher's question 18] Students, can these also be used as strong evidence to study the New Culture Movement?

[Students' discussion and answers 18] Yes, yes.

[Teacher's question 19] Everyone told me that these historical materials reflected the influence of the New Culture Movement at that time. Could you tell me whether it was social progress or regression then?

[Students' answers 19] Progress. The eighth time echoed the lecture theme.

Link 12: “Students, please talk about the politics, economy and culture in your mind during the reign of the Northern Warlords based on what you have learned.” Finally, this course ends.


Things should be practiced rather than to be just written on paper. Looking back on the author's efforts from the initial preparation of materials, continuous revision of courseware, repeated grinding of lessons to the shaping of this lesson and the final draft of this article, it seems that it was yesterday. Occasionally, the author wants to offer some suggestions below.

5.1. Attempt and Exploration

Based on the content setting of Lesson 20 in the new textbook, in order to expand the teaching process, the author selected the early period of the Northern Warlords' reign, that is, the Northern Warlords' reign in the early years of the Republic of China, from March 1912 to 29 December 1928, to explain the content of this lesson, and took progress and regression as an important clue to learn it. In the course of specific lectures, the original intention of this lesson has been achieved through the confirmation of multiple historical materials, the teacher's demonstration, explanation and guidance, teacher-student interaction, student discussion and other forms.

5.2. Seeking Truth From Facts and Implementing Historical Evidence

The types of historical materials have a certain degree of diversity, and the historical perspectives of different historical materials are also different. Therefore, understanding a certain historical event cannot be verified based on a single historical material, but should be mutually verified through a variety of types of historical materials. The author mainly focuses on historical documents and pictures in the teaching of this course, and in the teaching of step-by-step and multiple teacher-student interactions with students. It has infiltrated the spirit that history learning and research should adhere to the principle of “no evidence without proof” and “no evidence without words”. Under the guidance of teachers, students can witness the objective occurrence and development of history by using rich historical materials of pictures and documents as the media, learn to take historical materials as empirical materials, verify and judge the objective history by putting themselves in the problem situation and using the method of historical materials empirical, which can not only stimulate their interest in historical learning, but also improve their ability of historical research and achieved the effect of teachers' empirical cultivation of historical materials.

5.3. Unity of Knowledge and Practice Sublimates Historical Evidence

After students complete the comparison, interpretation and discrimination of different types of historical materials with the teacher, they can use their own language to try to restore history based on the historical materials they have mastered. This is the distillation of historical material empirical literacy and also the ultimate pursuit of cultivating historical material empirical literacy. The value of empirical cultivation of historical materials is to standardize students' motivation and goal of inquiry with a correct concept of truth seeking, use rich and diverse historical materials as the media, and use historical knowledge as the basis for analyzing historical materials, and then conduct dialogue with teachers and historical materials under the guidance of a series of problem chains to finally realize the construction of their own historical world.


Zhang Jingru. Changes of Chinese Society During the Period of Northern Warlords [M]. Beijing: China Renmin University Press, 1992, pp. 16. (in Chinese)
Yuan Xiang, Li Xixian, et al. Chinese Yearbook Section 1 [M]. Shanghai: The Commercial Press, 1924, pp. 1441. (in Chinese)
Yu Heping. Zhang Jian and His Effort to Modernize Agriculture Early in the Republic of China [J]. Journal of Yangzhou University, 2003, 7(6). (in Chinese)
Li Kan, Li Shiyue, et al. Modern Chinese History (1840–1919) [M]. Beijing: Zhonghua Book Company, 2018, pp. 419. (in Chinese)
K.R. Popper. Evolutionary Theory of Scientific Knowledge: Selected Works of Popper's Philosophy of Science [M], edited and translated by Ji Shuli. Beijing: SDX Joint Publishing Company, 1987, pp. 184. (in Chinese)
Du Chunhe. The Struggle and Decline of the Northern Warlords in Anhui [M]. Beijing: Beijing Yanshan Publishing House, 2000, pp. 202. (in Chinese)
Tao Juyin. History of the Northern Warlords' Reign (Part 1) [M]. Shanxi: Shanxi People's Publishing House, 2013, pp. 500. (in Chinese)
Chen Duxiu. Duxiu Archives, Volume I Thesis: Old Thoughts and National System Problems, 1916 [OL]. (in Chinese)
Chen Duxiu. Statement of Defense of Crime. New Youth, 1919, 6(1) [OL]. (in Chinese)
Lu Xun. Lu Xun's Collected Works, Volume I: Scream, A Madman's Diary [M]. Beijing: Beijing Daily Press (formerly known as Tongxin Press), 2014, pp. 159. (in Chinese)
Hu Shi. Hu Shi's Archives, Volume IV: “Wu Yu's Records” Preface [M]. Beijing: Foreign Languages Press, 2013, pp. 255. (in Chinese)
Hu Shi. Tolerance and Freedom: Our Attitude Towards Western Modern Civilization [M]. Yunnan: Yunnan People's Publishing House, 2015, pp. 88–91. (in Chinese)

Cite This Article

AU  - Liang Sun
PY  - 2023
DA  - 2023/03/14
TI  - Research on the Cultivation of History Teaching Based on Historical Evidence: Taking Lesson 20 Politics, Economy and Culture in the Period of the Northern Warlords as an Example (Progress and Retrogression Co-Exist)
BT  - Proceedings of the 3rd International Conference on Education Studies: Experience and Innovation (ICESEI 2022)
PB  - Athena Publishing
SP  - 127
EP  - 134
SN  - 2949-8937
UR  -
DO  -
ID  - Sun2023
ER  -