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  • Gordon Dumoulin

'When around others, they are my teachers' 三人行必有我师焉



𝗘𝗱𝘂𝗰𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻 has recently been a hot topic in 𝗖𝗵𝗶𝗻𝗮 in society and governance. The well-being of children, the fierce competition, the exploitation by private education, quality of education are extensively being discussed in society and government measures have been taken to initiate transformation of the education system.


Education has played a central and continuous role in Chinese civilization right from the beginning. The first written mention of a “school” in China appears in the oracle bones of the Shang dynasty (about 1800-1050 B.C.E.), which constitute the first written records in China and the main historical record for that period.


Traditional Chinese culture attached core importance to education as a means of enhancing a person’s worth, standing and course of life. And still does so much today.



Education can generally be seen as the mean and possibility for 𝘀𝗲𝗹𝗳-𝗰𝘂𝗹𝘁𝗶𝘃𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻; the development of one's mind or capacities through one's own efforts. Although sometimes perceived as a form of psychotherapy in Western societies, self-cultivation is not about healing or self-help but about self-development and self-improvement as a human being. 𝗦𝗲𝗹𝗳-𝗰𝘂𝗹𝘁𝗶𝘃𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻 𝗶𝘀 𝗮𝗻 𝗲𝘀𝘀𝗲𝗻𝘁𝗶𝗮𝗹 𝗰𝗼𝗺𝗽𝗼𝗻𝗲𝗻𝘁 𝗼𝗳 𝗖𝗵𝗶𝗻𝗲𝘀𝗲 (𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗔𝘀𝗶𝗮𝗻) 𝗲𝘁𝗵𝗶𝗰𝗮𝗹 𝘃𝗮𝗹𝘂𝗲𝘀.


Self-cultivation is an important consideration in today’s transformation of education. It is about the questions of how education plays a role in self-cultivation of people, their own course of life and their interactions and responsibilities with society.. Rather than the 'focus' of just studying in the competition for the best grades and jobs as in many other societies as well.


Education is a privilege to be able to learn information and expertise to gain confidence and capacity; but not a privilege to turn from confidence to arrogance and ignorance.



Self-cultivation based on education is one of or maybe 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗽𝗶𝗹𝗹𝗮𝗿 𝗼𝗳 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗶𝗲𝗻𝘁 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗱𝘆𝗻𝗮𝗺𝗶𝗰 𝗖𝗵𝗶𝗻𝗲𝘀𝗲 𝗰𝗶𝘃𝗶𝗹𝗶𝘇𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻 up till today. The current transformations are measures adapting to a new page of education in the Chinese civilization.


Western media is writing about the crackdown of private education and the increasing government control on education content in the transformation process but this is shortsighted with often biased conclusions, leaving out the long history and cultural aspects of the role of education in China.



Confidence for certain directions based on learning and self-cultivation is highly valuable as long as it does not cross the thin line towards arrogance or self-preoccupation. Then self-cultivation would be lost along with the ability and desire to learn and improve.


#china #chineseculture #chinesehistory #chinesesociety #chineseeducation #education #selfcultivation #selfreflection

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