Education and Culture
Traditional Chinese Education and Culture.
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Confucius was the first to advocate moral education. Politically, he advocated the practice of the "rites of the Zhou Dynasty," and in education he urged the re - adoption of the Six Arts formed in the heyday of the Western Zhou Dynasty. However, his "resumption of the Zhou rites" was by no means a simple retrogression to the Western Zhou period，but was intended as part of a reform needed by his own time. His fundamental idea of reform in education was to attain the goal of "recommending outstanding talents" by way of introducing "the best students to officialdom." Here, by "outstanding" and "best" he meant those who had perfected their morality, those who were truly benevolent or virtuous. Moral education was therefore given prime importance in his teaching. He devoted almost all his life to systematically editing and revising The Book of Songs, The Book of History, The Book of Rates, The Book of Music, The Book of Changes, and Spring and Autumn Annals, and compiling them into teaching materials known as the Six Classics.
The Book of Songs is a collection of poems and songs written from the Western Zhou period onwards. Of the original 3,000, Confucius selected only 305. The central idea of the poems and songs he selected conformed with the moral standards of the "rites." Learning The Book of Songs was，for him，a matter of great significance. Studying the book could give voice to a person’s feelings and ambition，enable one to observe society and understand and also promote a consciousness of cooperation. The key was to learn the way and reason of "serving one's father," and "serving one's sovereign." A person who had learned the book, but could not apply the teachings in practice in the world，had only touched the "skin and hair" of the book. not the essence and substance within it.
The Book of History or Shang Shu is a collection of political and historical events compiled by governments before the Spring and Autumn Period. It recorded the important historical events of the Xia, Shang and Zhou dynasties. The whole collection was said to have had one hundred sections, but only 28 have survived. Confucius believed that to learn the book would not only to enrich one's knowledge of history, but more importantly enable one to master the way earlier kings ruled their kingdoms Through moral teachings. He said: "What does The Book of History say of filial piety? -‘you are filial，you discharge your brotherly duties. These qualities are displayed in government.’ This then also constitutes the exercise of government. Why must there be that - making one be in the government?" From this, it is clear that what Confucius considered most important in The Book of History was its moral teachings on filial piety and love for one's brothers.
The Book of Rites is also known as Shi Li or Yi Li. Confucius carefully studied the rites of the Xia, Shang and Zhou dynasties. Of these, it was the rites of the Zhou period that he chose for people to follow. The "Zhou rites" that he selected were those concerned with the spirit of "Ren" or benevolence. He was strongly opposed to the use of the rites simply as a social veneer. For this purpose, he selected 17 works describing the "norms of etiquette" for scholars to 1earn. These were to be conscientiously 1earnt by students in order to understand the basis of how to be a good man- "If you do not study the rites, you cannot know how to conduct yourself."
The Book of Music was unfortunately lost during the Qin Dynasty and no one knows what it contained. However，it is known that Confucius’ reason for compiling the book was his belief in the moral power of fine music. The best music，he said，should be a harmonious Unification of beauty and virtue.
The Book of Changes is also known as Zhou Yi Confucius studied the book relatively late in his life, bur during that time he studied it so hard that the bamboo sheets (the 1eaves of the book at that time) fell out of their binding. While studying the book，Confucius and his disciples wrote annotations and commentaries，generally known as Yi Zhuan, explaining the Confucian doctrines of morality politics and philosophy.
Spring and Autumn Annals is a chronicle of the State of Lu，the native place of Confucius. After Confucius revised the book，it became heavily endowed with political and ethical hues. Through his use of metaphor，he concealed the ideas of "rectification of names," "judgment on people," and "distinguishing virtue from wickedness." It became a very important book for training Personnel for the rule of virtue as advocated by Confucianists.
From this general analysis of the Six Classics，the motif of moral teachings of the Confucian classics can be clearly seen. With the exception of The Book of Music, they became the basic courses for both government and private schools in feudal Chinese society.
Along with the progress of feudal society, Confucian educators over the ages made different annotations to the classics. which accordingly promoted the development of diversified forms of Confucian educational ideology. The five classics were always maintained as the fundamental courses in schools，though the particular emphasis varied in different dynasties.
For example，when Wang Anshi of the Northern Song Dynasty reformed the national university, he stressed that the newly annotated The Book of Songs, The Book of History，and The Book of Rites should be used as the fundamental courses in the university After the Song period，Confucian educators added The Great Learning, The Doctrine of the Mean，The Analects, and The Book of Mencius to the fundamental courses for both government and private schools. In private schools and academies, more attention was paid to the academic aspects of the classics. In private schools, books such as the Three-Character Classic, The Names of a Hundred Families, Thousand-Character Classic and the Seventeen Historical Stores for Children all came to include the introductory knowledge to Confucian moral teachings.
It is worth noting that the structure of courses centered around moral teaching as its core was the main feature of traditional moral education in China as a whole. We can See that moral teaching was also an important part of the fine traditions of Chinese culture. This traditional education also contained a certain degree of natural sciences，literature and arts. In fact，the Confucian classics involved some knowledge of natural sciences，such as the names of some birds，beasts，flowers and vegetation in The Book of Songs, the world's earliest record of a solar eclipse in The Book of History, and the record of Halley’s Comet in Spring and Autumn Annals. Along with the economic and political development of feudal China，various professional schools appeared such as the comprehensive school of poetry-calligraphy-painting, and schools of history, mathematics，painting，law, and rites. All of these contributed to the development of diverse sciences and arts in ancient times.
In addition, a number of Confucian educators made proposals and suggestions for the improvement of teaching as the actual conditions required at the time. For instance, Wang Anshi, when he insisted on the introduction of moral education on the basis of the new explanation of the three classics，proposed the adoption of a policy of incorporating all that was good in the diverse schools of thought. Gu Yanwu (1613 - 1682) ，Huang Zongxi (1610 - 1695) and Yan Yuan (1635 - 1704) ，educators of the late Ming and early Qing periods，also had similar proposals，advocating the incorporation of education in practical science and technology in addition to Confucian moral education.
In summary, this structure of moral education courses occupied a dominant position in traditional Chinese education. However, natural sciences and literary and art courses were also developed, sometimes faster than other courses and leading to the creation of a number of professional schools. Most of such schools were operated by private individuals or families. This form of education was closely linked to the relative stability of the 2,000-year-long patriarchal feudal society in China. But faced with the emerging science and industry of the modern world，traditional Chinese education was out - dated and had to accept the challenge of the new era.
With the goal of education and the courses to teach having been specified，the question was how teachers should teach，how students should learn and how the relationship between the two should be handled. Over the years, the many educators of the past had accumulated a rich and important body of experience. The key aspects of this are as follows:
1. Respect Teachers and Love Students
Confucius，the great educator, knew how to love his students. He recruited students without distinction of wealth and class. and he taught them with sincerity and love. His education principle was to quote him: "If a man purifies himself to wait upon me. I receive him so purified, without guaranteeing his past conduct." He not only paid attention to students’ progress in their Studies and moral cultivation，but also to their wellbeing. When someone among his students fell ill，he would go to visit him and when someone was in difficulty, he would offer to help him, this noble integrity and love that Confucius had for his students naturally won him the respect and love of his students. After he died，many of his students observed mourning for their deceased teacher for many years. They were determined to popularize his doctrines and teachings defying all difficulties.
Later generations of educators followed Confucius’ Rood example，forming a fine Tradition in Chinese education. Generally teachers who were devoted to their cause of education and warmheartedly took care of their students’ progress would receive the sincere esteem of their students，no matter what teaching style the teacher preferred. For instance, Cheng Hao was amiable and kind in teaching, giving his students a feeling of "being caressed by a Spring breeze." But Cheng Yi was known for his seriousness and sternness. When one student went to visit him, the student saw his teacher meditating with closed eyes. So he stood outdoors obediently until the falling snowflakes had piled up a foot high. It can thus be Seen that the respect the students held for their teachers stemmed from the inspiration of the latter's moral integrity.
2. Elicitation and Guidance
A teacher needs active responses and cooperation of the students. The psychology of students was of great importance to educators in ancient China, and when possible they inspired them to think.
Confucius never merely instilled his teaching in the minds of his students. instead he guided them in how to proceed in their studies. He skillfully made good use of any opportunities and conditions that would inspire them to use their minds and think independently. The Master said, "I do not open up the truth to one who is not eager to get knowledge，nor help out any one who is not anxious to explain himself. When I have presented one corner of a subject to any one，and he cannot from it learn the other three. I do not repeat my lesson." He provided a free and lively environment for them to speak their mind without restraint and talked to them with charm and wit. Sometimes，he would pretend that he knew nothing about the problem they were discussing，raising all kinds of questions to help the students explore the issue. In this he was similar to Socrates and his "midwifery" method of teaching. Socrates opposed direct teaching of students，preferring to question them and lead them to draw conclusions by themselves.
Many other educators in ancient China also made profound studies of this elicitation teaching method.
3. Teaching Students in Accordance with Their Aptitude
To promote students’initiative in their studies，a teacher must know and master the individual character and psychological quality of each student so as to teach them better.
Confucius had a deep understanding of this. Once Zi Lu，a student of Confucius，asked his teacher: "Should one act immediately upon hearing a good idea?"
"How can you act without first consulting your parents and elder brothers?" replied Confucius. After a while，another student，Ran Qiu, asked the same question，but this time Confucius answered. "Yes! You should. "Gong Xihua had been listening，and was puzzled by this.
"Why did you give such totally different answers to the same question?" he asked.
Confucius explained to him，"Ran Qiu is hesitant and needs encouragement. But Zi Lu is rash and needs to learn restraint. "
This method introduced by Confucius has been recommended and used widely in teaching practice. Cheng Yi concluded, "Confucius taught his students using the method in accordance with their aptitude. Some he taught by way of politics, some by way of language and some by way of morality." Cheng himself also used this way to teach his students. Nobody can deny that this time-honored teaching method is still important in present - day education.
4. Proceed Step by Step in an Orderly Way
Educators in ancient times gradually came to understand Through practice the significance of teaching in an orderly way and step by step. Thus，the unity of the teaching materials, the order of their arrangement, and the aptitude of the students should be taken into consideration. In practice, it is important to proceed from the easy to the difficult，from that which is near to that which is far, and from the concrete to the abstract. It must be said that ancient educators had varying levels of understanding of this.
Confucius was skillful in applying this principle to his teaching, leaving a profound impression on his students. His student Yan Yuan said with feeling. "The Master has led me forward step by step，using classics to enrich my learning, and using etiquette to guide my acts. I could not give up Learning now, much as I want." For students，learning means a growth of knowledge only by means of accumulation. Only by one step following another can one travel a thousand li; only by gathering water from all the streams can there be the ocean, "to quote the ancient philosopher and educator Xun Zi (C. 313-238) . Zhu Xi spoke of this in his famous article "The Reading Method," stressing that one must read books one part After another and each article and each sentence in a book should be perused. There is no point in lapping up information without properly digesting it.
5. Integrating Learning with Thinking
Learning and thinking are two parts of a whole. Learning without thinking is merely the piling up of information, while thinking without Learning is merely empty daydreaming. Ancient educators understood this well and urged the integration of the two.
Confucius said that Learning without thinking is like eating food without digesting it，and is just as useless. But thinking without Learning produces nothing practical，so it is also harmful. He was quite right，and this came to be considered as a basic principle for later educators. Mencius (c. 372 - 289 BC) , a Confucian thinker, statesman and educator during the Warring States Period, also advocated the significance of learning, but he especially attached importance to thinking. He said: "Man’s mind is the organ for thinking. The way to solve a problem can be obtained Through thinking，but there will be no way out when you do not think." In his view, learning without thinking leads to being easily misled. He stressed: "When one believes completely what a book says，it is time to throw it away."
The training of a skeptical mind was considered to be of great importance by ancient educators，so as to avoid one - sided viewpoints and promote students’ capacity for independent thinking. Debate between teachers and students was particularly common in academies. Zhu Xi especially stressed the importance of questioning in one’s studies. He said that "if something is believable, even it is said by ordinary people, it cannot be changed. If it is doubtful, even if it comes from the lips of scholars and great men, it should be carefully examined and thought over." It was this fine Tradition of questioning which promoted the development of traditional Chinese educational theories and academic and cultural thought.
Wang Fuzhi, a great thinker of the early Qing period，said, "Learning is not an obstacle to thinking. With extensive learning, one's thinking will reach far. Thinking is helpful to Learning and when difficulty arises in thinking, one has to learn harder." Only by closely integrating Learning with thinking, can students’ learning be guaranteed. This is perhaps the most important lesson left to us by the educators of ancient times.
6. Specialized Knowledge Needs a Broad Base
Specialized and broad knowledge are mutually dependent. To gain broad knowledge with no depth is like acting without a purpose. But depth without a foundation of breadth is unreliable. Ancient educators had a full understanding of this.
In his teachings. Confucius attached importance to breadth of information. But he stressed that at a suitable time，one should sum up one's broad knowledge into intensive knowledge as a guiding thinking. According to Mencius，the logic between extensive and intensive knowledge lies in the full understanding and command of extensive knowledge，which is finally boiled down to intensive knowledge.
Confucian scholars during the Song and Ming periods also paid attention to the relationship between these two parts. Zhu Xi’s extensive knowledge had an intensive core of morality. He described those who sought broad information but had no intensive guiding idea as "wandering riders who never go home."
Ancient educators found the contradiction between these two parts and advocated that they should be linked up as a whole. However，they usually took moral principle as the only intensive core, a way of thinking confined by the nature of a feudal society that is quite different from modern explanations.
7. Gaining New Insights Through Reviewing Old Material
Gaining new insights by reviewing old material that one has already learned is also unity of opposites. If these two elements are properly handled，progress can be made. At the very beginning of The Analects of Confucius, the first sentence "Is it not pleasant to learn with constant perseverance and application?" shows the importance the Master attached to studying and restudying. He also advocated that when a student finds his teacher’s words to be contrary to the truth，he should insist on his own viewpoint. He also said, "He who gains new insights Through restudying old material is fit to be a teacher." The educators of ancient China meant here to promote a creative and fact - seeking way of teaching and learning.
Wang Chong (27- c. 97) , a materialist philosopher of the Eastern Han Dynasty, actively opposed blind following what teachers and great masters had said in their books. Instead, students should read extensively and have enough courage to challenge the conventional teachings of sages and masters. He left a number of valuable essays such as "Ask Confucius" and "Interrogate Mencius." Zhu Xi wrote a famous poem in which he cleverly reduced the creative spirit couched in the phrase "gaining new insights Through restudying old material" to these two lines："How is it that this brook is so clean/Because there is flowing water springing from its source." Many people of deep insight，both past and present，have been inspired by these two fines.
8. Learning Through Practice
The purpose of traditional Chinese education was to promote the moral level of the people. The doctrines advocated by Confucian educators must be eventually applied to personal actions in line with moral principles. Therefore，practice by both teachers and students was the most important aspect of moral education.
For Confucius, the greatest fault of intellectuals was the use of clever words and boasting that did not match their actions. A man of virtue should regard empty talk as a disgrace. When assessing the moral level of a student, the teacher should not only listen to what the student said. but also observe how he acted. His deeds should match his words. Xun Zi (313 - 238 BC) also held that 1earning should not remain in the superficial stage of "listening and speaking." but proceed further to practice through "asking," "Perceiving." and "knowing," The Doctrine of the Mean described the process of Learning as "reading extensively, asking questions, carefully pondering, clearly distinguishing, and conscientiously practicing." This conclusion has become a cardinal principle for later generations in their teaching and learning. In the theory of knowledge, though ancient educators disagreed on whether, it was knowledge or practice that came first，they all made moral education the basis of teaching and learning. The combination of Learning with practice had been an important feature of traditional Chinese education.
9. Teaching and Learning Complement and Support Each Other
Teaching and Learning naturally supplement each other. Teachers and students can promote and help each other in the practice of teaching and learning. Educators in ancient China set examples for us in this respect，providing much food for enlightenment.
The chapter on Learning in The Book of Rites has a profound analysis and description of the complementary relationship between teaching and learning. The students, having learned and practiced, find that their knowledge is lacking. The teachers，through practice, find that their abilities are also lacking. Because the students have found their weaknesses they are able to examine themselves and work harder to improve their studies. The teachers having learnt their limitations will work harder to improve their teaching skills. In this way, the teachers and students are equal. Through teaching and Through learning, each will discover their weaknesses and know where they have to improve. A competent teacher 1S never complacent in his teaching, and recognizes the need to restudy and improve his teaching skills, and the best source of this knowledge is his students. "Anyone can be a teacher from whom knowledge can be acquired," said Confucius. "If there are three men walking together one of them is bound to be good enough to be my teacher." This shows his persistence in the pursuit of Learning and restudying throughout his life. Once when he was discussing an academic problem with his student Zi Xia，he exclaimed， "You have enlightened me. Pu Shang [another name of Zi Xia]!"
Han Yu (768 - 824) , a writer and philosopher of the Tang Dynasty, summed this up, saying that though the student was a follower of his teacher, he was by no means inferior to his elder if he was stronger in a special field of study. So he concluded: "A student is not necessarily inferior to his teacher and a teacher is not necessarily superior to his student." The key is to complement each other in the course of teaching and learning.
In ancient private schools, particularly in academies, teachers and students often discussed academic problems together in addition to class teaching. In fact，this kind of free discussion or debate could help promote the further study of some problems so as to facilitate teaching and learning.
We have summarized the main experiences of traditional Chinese education. These experiences are most certainly a part of the important intellectual wealth of traditional Chinese culture.
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