28 November 2015

Confucius on education ‘reform’

From Xueji 《學記》 in the Book of Rites:

According to the system of teaching now-a-days, the masters hum over the tablets which they see before them, multiplying their questions. They speak of the learners' making rapid advances, and pay no regard to their reposing in what they have acquired. In what they lay on their learners they are not sincere, nor do they put forth all their ability in teaching them. What they inculcate is contrary to what is right, and the learners are disappointed in what they seek for. In such a case, the latter are distressed by their studies and hate their masters; they are embittered by the difficulties, and do not find any advantage from their labour. They may seem to finish their work, but they quickly give up its lessons. That no results are seen from their instructions -- is it not owing to these defects?
It strikes me as fairly clear from this passage that Confucius would not look kindly, either on modern China’s primary and secondary education system and priorities, or on our own. The heavy emphasis on quantifiably benchmarking students according to standardised test results, and that in only a narrow range of ‘practical’ subjects like STEM, is contrary to what Confucius says here about the primary aims and goals of education. Suffice it to say, the Master who inspired East Asia’s cultural dominance of the world prior to modernity, would have inclined far more heavily toward Diane Ravitch’s critical point-of-view than toward Michelle Rhee’s or Nick Kristof’s.

No comments:

Post a Comment