Sunday, April 22, 2007

Morality and Education

The great Chinese scholar, Chu Hsi (Zhu Xi), said repeatedly moral principle is the root or foundation of learning.

Schools that avoid discussion of morality cannot produce well educated people when the graduates have no common understanding of morality.

Let's put Chu Hsi in perspective. He was born in 1130 A.D., the 12th Century, which was the High Middle Ages in Europe. Civil War broke out in England in 1135. The Second Crusade was launched in 1145. Thomas Becket was murdered in 1170 and Chu Hsi died in 1200.

Chu Hsi wrote extensively on learning. When he says moral principle is the root of learning, we should listen.

Also notice that he did not write about education. His perspective was on the responsibility of the student: learning. After all, education is the combination of teaching and learning.

American pedagogy focuses on teaching, while the culture most succesful in schooling focuses on learning.

There is a lot we can learn from the Chinese.


Wednesday, April 04, 2007

The Best of East and West

Re-Education by Ann Hulbert was in the New York Times Magazine on Sunday, April 1, 2007. The article describes how China is working to introduce an American style liberal arts approach to college education with more emphasis on critical thinking and originality and less emphasis on memorization. China wants to increase its competitiveness and seeks "a creative mix of the best of East and West."

This is in line with what I have been saying: we need to borrow the best China has to offer in education to better compete against China. Each side, East and West, has gone too far into its favorite approach and neglected the less favored approach. The West has gone over-board with critical thinking and has neglected teaching basic knowledge and skills.

In the Winding Spring Process of Education, acquiring knowledge and skills is the extension of knowledge in the learning phase of the process.