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When Socrates Meets Confucius

Popularity 14Viewed 5748 times 2014-5-7 17:56 |Personal category:education|System category:Others| Confucius, Socrates, critical, thinking

When Socrates Meets Confucius

I guess all of us have already noticed Confucius sculpture stand tall and upright in school campus as a result of the influence of significant Confucianism. Confucius, one of achievements he made was about  practical and advanced teaching and learning ideas two thousand years ago. And Chinese teachers and students even for today benefit quite a lot from them. Also in the west, people praise Socrates highly for he made great contribution to education, especially including the way of critical thinking by question-answer format that is exactly what Chinese people lack nowadays.

I have obtained an outdated news from Internet which still could illustrate this problem. It is reported that in 2012, senior high school students in China, for further studies in overseas, they took SAT and unsatisfactory result showed that less than 7% students got the passing grade, 1800 points. Besides, for those who want to study at top-tier universities, only 2% among them got the offer finally. Why? Cause SAT emphasizes critical thinking instead memory ability unlike most of domestic examinations.Therefor, here is a fact we can not deny.

Wait, what is going wrong? China has brilliant and long-lasting education culture since two thousand years ago, Confucius could be an excellent teacher to tell us how to treat learning. But, now are we indeed lacking in critical thinking? Yes. Generally speaking, I think there are 2 reasons. Firstly, the traditional education concept really influenced students too much. Usually students consider that teacher, as transmitter of public knowledge and dedicator of intellectual value, plays an irreplaceable role in education and everything teachers told in class is 100 percent accurate. So they receive information and knowledge in a blind-obedience way without deeper thought in most cases from generation to generation. Secondly, the majority of teachers just concern about admission rates because of all sorts of pressures but ignore critical thinking. Even for most parents, they have always attached great importance to high grades and imitate how eagle dad or tiger mother educate children. Gradually, the adults will not take critical thinking into consideration.

So, how could we change the current situation so that our students will not be memory robots? Personally, firstly in school, courses and curricula related to critical thinking should be offered. In class, teachers should appreciate what students think independently and encourage them to view the authority in a way of question and criticism. Meanwhile, to create conditions by some materials and suggestions could help students realize how important the critical thinking is. And then, there is possibility for students to practice by their own ways. Meanwhile, in home education, parents should care more about the growth of children in family education, stress on the cultivation of morality and creativity, and enlighten them think by themself in order to govern the country when they become adults and at least be a qualified citizens, which may be the purpose of education like what Socrates and Confucius hoped. What is more, as for every educational experts or reformers, even for every Chinese people, everyone should transform our self-conscious from  critical thinking is not a big deal to critical thinking is really important.

Without critical thinking, school is not educational organization any more yet becomes manufactures producing the same diploma and intellectual. If students, as social individuals, could not have their fantastic, unique and independent thoughts, where is the hope to make social civilization progress? So, it is high time we did something to return the energy to kids!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Opinions of the writer in this blog don't represent those of China Daily.)


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Reply Report 财神 2014-5-7 20:27
accurate analysis.the education system is based on score not scientific necessities.what we have to move forward is practical methods.however confucious and socrates both are the great philosopher of history.
Reply Report jiewei798 2014-5-7 22:09
Did Confucius teach critical thinking?
Reply Report tedbrent 2014-5-9 11:01
  
Reply Report monkey_warrior3 2014-5-11 03:16
Honesty, Chinese philosophy is no match for Western Philosophy, you people in China don't understand the depth of the English language and what I call "Western Knowledge", don't underestimate them, they know more than you think! Now, back to that report about the cute and adorable panda:

Well, what credentials do you need? I've got a university degree and I'm studying a postgraduate degree in Business at the moment. I worked as a freight handler at FedEx and for a department store called Myer. I know, I know, it's not good enough but the newspapers keep saying the Australian Economy is no good and there's too much competition for good jobs. Well, at least we live in a democracy, our country Australia promotes freedom of expression, choice of government, female equality and diversity ... it is what Australia does best, we are a free country and that's why I'm so lucky to be in a country like Austral
Reply Report voice_cd 2014-5-12 10:13
we have highlighted this blog to the homepage.
Reply Report huaren2323 2014-5-12 11:03
Chinese nor Greek Philisophies/Pedadgogies are limited to ONLY Confucian nor Socratic ones. Though they both lived in the 500 BC age.
Confucius was not well received nor sponsored by the King in the Shantung area who was more pre-occupied with the defense of his territory. In fact Confucius almost lived in many instances close to poverty and his wife lamented how he can think of so many things yet can hardly make ends meets.
On the other hand, Greece then was still different city States such as Sparta, Athens....and the cities were ruled by corporate of senior and prominent citizens. There upon this, the citizens were pre-disposed to listening to other opinion and deliberate the outcome of certain topics of discussions whether it be political or civil or military in nature. Unlike in China, the rule of Law was held in the hands of an absolute leader who is the King and probably his close advisers and generals. Socrates put forward a strcuture of enquiries by series of question until the answers distilled the crux of the question at hand.
Confuius on the other hand had to be very careful that he did nit incur the ire of the Kings and his minions of advisers and therefore sought to write his Analects which were more sociological in nature...the Nations are made of municipalities, which in turn is made of of ethnic Groups, who in turn is made of family, who in turn is run by the father or the grandfather. So the analects aimed at the improving the governance of the most basic social unit which is the family. His Analects were not apprciated until after so many dynasties whose scholar thought this philosophy is applicable to the Chinese Empire which were now consolidation of Wei Su and Chao that made up current day China.
There are many other philosophers of the scientific and political field. If Greece had Hippocrates China had Hua Tuo (whose documentation of post mortem examination of the cadaver gave rise to modern practice of Osteopathy in China if not surgery. If Italy had Machiavelli, China had Sun Tze, a required reading by West Point and Sandhurst Military school in USA and UK.
The main reason for current Chinese conditioning has got to do a lot with the comunist Regime of Mao Tze Tung who had no patience nor tolerance for individual opinion. Here the interest of the majority outweighs every individual interests or opinion. Well it worked for China as it remained intact..Now itistime to re-engineer and re-orientated the modern Chinese mind set. a question that rectors of Beijing University and Tsinghua U and Qiaotung U..Ren Min U had their hands full for more than a decade now.
For those who think the Chinese mind is one dimensional, think again when the entire world was dying to get to China and its goods in the Middle Ages and how technology from China trickled into the West and spread by the Vatican led to the Renaissance.
Reply Report wushengli 2014-5-12 17:59
Wow, good speech." In class, teachers should appreciate what students think independently"... "teachers should appreciate those students who think independently.""what do you think?"is less acceptable.
Reply Report LanaLiao 2014-5-12 22:02
monkey_warrior3: Honesty, Chinese philosophy is no match for Western Philosophy, you people in China don't understand the depth of the English language and what I call ...
I wonder why Chinese philosophy is no match for Western philosophy. As is known,  Confucius sculptures have entered  many foreign universities, yet I haven't seen any sculpture of Socrates in China( though I do admit Socrate was a very great philosopher and pay much respect to him). In my opinion, Chinese philosophy and western philosophy focus on two different kinds of thinking modes. Each has its own sparkles and strengths. We should learn from both of them and make them serve our human society.
Reply Report LanaLiao 2014-5-12 22:19
"the majority of teachers just concern about admission rates because of all sorts of pressures but ignore critical thinking." That's not wrong.
I believe exams in China are not new to most of us. We all know they have serious drawbacks, but we shouldn't put the blame upon those hardworking teachers, especially the less-paid middle school teachers , but on the whole education system. So education reforms are in urgent need.
Reply Report PatrickInBeijin 2014-5-12 22:26
There might be another reason Chinese students do so poorly on the SAT.  Cultural.  Most of the questions on the SAT assume a shared cultural basis of knowledge.  Shared among American students, not Chinese.  That's all.  It has nothing to do with what is better.  After all, ask western students to take the GaoKao!!  OMG!!  And American students generally lag on international tests.  So, the big problem, is that this is the wrong question.  But nicely written!
Reply Report 286633460 2014-5-13 06:44
As far as I am concerned ,part of you opinions are right, but to deny the Chinese education. it is not so correct. Because not China control the education market. so we need to get used to another country's  education system, that  do not mean Chinese education is poor and short of something.
Reply Report seanboyce88 2014-5-13 09:26
monkey_warrior3: Honesty, Chinese philosophy is no match for Western Philosophy, you people in China don't understand the depth of the English language and what I call ...
Please, sir, explain Zhuangzi's inner chapters too me and then come back saying they don't compare. In reality, there are many similarities between zhuangzi and the western philosophies. In terms of philosophy, both eastern and western, they were new ways of thinking at the time and so, in a way, could be counted as critical thinking. Remember confucius wasn't their only philosopher.

And a degree in Business is not credentials for a debate here. Not one that overrides everyone else's opinion.

Every country has it's strengths and flaws. Don't go shooting down China too quickly.
Reply Report seanboyce88 2014-5-13 09:27
huaren2323: Chinese nor Greek Philisophies/Pedadgogies are limited to ONLY Confucian nor Socratic ones. Though they both lived in the 500 BC age.
Confucius was no ...
You beat me too it :p

Took the words out of my mouth. Well said.
Reply Report seanboyce88 2014-5-13 09:28
LanaLiao: I wonder why Chinese philosophy is no match for Western philosophy. As is known,  Confucius sculptures have entered  many foreign universities, yet I  ...
It is not inferior at all. You are correct 2 different ways of thinking.
Reply Report teamkrejados 2014-5-13 09:34
monkey_warrior3: Honesty, Chinese philosophy is no match for Western Philosophy, you people in China don't understand the depth of the English language and what I call ...
Some of 'us people' in China fully understand the depth, breadth and nuance of the English language, and even possess a measure of 'Western Knowledge'. We're dedicating our lives and careers to teaching these concepts and, you know what? 'These people' have a hunger for it, and thrive in activities involving critical thinking.
What a demeaning way to announce yourself to China and Chinese readers/writers, some of them fledglings. While I'm glad you're happy to live where you do, what point does it serve to bash a country whose blogging community you belong to?
Reply Report teamkrejados 2014-5-13 09:35
huaren2323: Chinese nor Greek Philisophies/Pedadgogies are limited to ONLY Confucian nor Socratic ones. Though they both lived in the 500 BC age.
Confucius was no ...
Great analysis! Wish you a great day
Reply Report teamkrejados 2014-5-13 09:42
Another cultural phenomenon that hinders critical thinking: 此. It is a cultural more to assimilate, to not stand out, to not be noticed and to not be remarkable. Can you imagine how culturally defiant a person would be who spouts unusual theories or extraordinary ideas?
Although, I do have to say that this facet of culture is quickly eroding. These younger generations want to be remarkable, noticed, etc... And, from teaching my classes I've noticed: the more 'splashy' the student, the more his/her thought patterns deviate from the norm.
Reply Report seanboyce88 2014-5-13 09:43
for those who think the Chinese philosopher's don't advocate critical thinking go look up mencius (mengzi) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mencius
look at the section on education where it states he advocates interrogation of the text as opposed to rote learning.
Reply Report LanaLiao 2014-5-13 10:11
seanboyce88: It is not inferior at all. You are correct 2 different ways of thinking.
Thanks for your understanding.
Reply Report 米洛.DeSTi 2014-5-13 16:11
we can discuss this situation in China , but we can not change it

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