This article presents an exploratory qualitative study that investigated a group of Chinese school teachers' imaginaries of intellectuals and self-perceived experiences of being an intellectual. The study was informed by the perspectives of critical pedagogy, that is, to transform technician-like teachers to organic, transformative, or society-involved intellectuals with an activist vision and emancipatory commitment. The findings were generated from textual analysis of in-depth interviews. Chinese teachers tended to distance teaching from their imagined intellectual work, which was deemed value-free and prestigious. Additionally, they rarely regarded themselves as critically engaged agents committed to challenging the oppressive structure in education. Their unreflexive acceptance of the intellectual-teacher divide and their depoliticised stance have largely been shaped by the instrumental approach of education, the pleasure-driven cultural industry, and the unique ideological landscape in China.