Confucianism's Effect On Modern Day China By Hunter kim

Since ancient times, education and schooling has been a large part of Chinese culture, and everybody takes is seriously. According to the 2012 OECD Pisa rankings, 15 year old in Shanghai dominated the leader boards in math, reading, and science. Chinese youths are also 3 years more advanced than their British counterparts in math ("China can teach..."). The success of these children is likely the legacy of one of China's most influential philosophers, Confucius.

Confucius was born during the decline of the Zhou emperor, and the rise of the feudal lords. Without any concrete ruler or government, the feudal lords were constantly waging war with one anther, throwing china into chaos. Confucius' father was a war general, and Confucius spent his childhood learning to inherit his father's job. However, just before Confucius took over, the feudal lord appointed a different acquaintance. Confucius was upset at the disarray and chaos that the feudal lords created, and created the philosophy, Confucianism.

Confucius firmly believed that a harmonious society starts with a good education. In order for society to function smoothly, each person must be competent at what their job. If the farmers of the community fail to provide crops, the entire village will starve. In a community where people rely on one another for daily necessities, Confucius saw the need to properly educate each individual.

Education and schooling plays a significant role in Chinese society. In the same way that Confucius valued education, the Chinese take schooling very seriously. During the week of university entrance exams, honking or rumbling the car engine outside is banned. These students have been studying for years for these tests, believing that it is the first step towards a successful and affluent life. Another example of the Chinese valuing education is the amount that they spend. Last year, Cai Rongsheng admitted to selling spots at Renmin university. The astonishing part is the price. Families paid the equivalent of $3,270,000, to get their children a good education("The Class Ceiling..."). In addition to citizens being very interested in education, the government is also very involved. In recent years, the Chinese government has quintupled its investment in schools, and the number of schools has doubled. The number of students attending colleges has also risen 42%. The Chines' large value of education shows the legacy of Confucius, and his similar interest in higher education.

Confucius' vision was a harmonious society built by relationships, and in which each individual had their own rectification of names. A rectification of names is somebody's occupation or identity. However, this title changes when dealing with different people. For example, a student may talk to another student in one way, but act more respectful to a teacher. These relationships or "rituals" that people exhibit towards one another is called Li.

In china, children are disciplined to act respectful towards their teachers, very similarly to the Confucian concept of Li. Teachers are also taught to be strict, and teach lots of material as quickly as possible. To support this, BBC2 conducted an experiment where Chinese teachers taught British students for a month. The British students quickly became uninterested, as the teachers taught too quickly for them. Soon, they were throwing paper airplanes. After seeing this, the Chinese teachers remarked "In China we don't need classroom management skills because everyone is disciplined by nature, by families, by society. Whereas here that is the most challenging part of teaching."("China can teach...") This concept of being disciplined by families and society is very similar to the ideal community in Confucianism. Chinese students normally respect and listen to their teachers because their parents taught them the fundamentals of Li. Because the students are well behaved and attentive, it makes teaching them much easier and more effective. The legacy of the Confucian concept of Li is still evident among students and teachers.

Yin and Yang, a symbol of Confucianism that represents duality, and complimentary forces

While researching the legacy of Confucius in schools and Chinese education, I found that the concept of Li and wanting a better education are still evident. I see how students respect their teachers, and how parents and government alike are very involved in schooling. However, while finding this, I wondered why is the legacy Confucianism more evident than Legalism or Daoism. What is it about Confucianism that makes it more appealing to modern day china than other philosophies?


"The Class Ceiling; Education." The Economist, June 4, 2016, 40(US). Accessed February 2, 2017. Global Issues in Context (GALE|A454138190). This source provides helpful information, describing the recent history and stats of Chinese schooling. Global issues in context is a well known database that provides well written and trustworthy information. The author of this article, the economist is a well known newspaper that has supplied reliable information for over a hundred years. The information corroborated with what I have learned about Chinese culture.

Michael, Rachel. "Education in China." World Education New & Reviews. Last modified March 7, 2016. Accessed February 2, 2017. This website provided lots of numbers and stats concerning Chinese schooling. The website clearly states where it gets it's information, and has no ads. It is well designed, showing that the creators of this page put in lots of effort. While the numbers and facts are very specific, it generally corroborates with my other sources.

The Times (London, England). "China Can Teach Our Schools a Thing or Two; Our Child-centred Education System Isn't Working so Let's Learn from Old-fashioned Asian Methods." August 10, 2015, 18. Accessed February 2, 2017. Global Issues in Context (GALE|A424891119). This source was very helpful in giving me an idea of how Chinese education differs from British or American schools. Global issues in context is a well known database that provides well written and trustworthy information. The author of this article, The Times, has been around for over 200 years. It is a famous and credible source. Theinformation corroborated with what I have learned about Chinese culture.

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