- Gordon Dumoulin
William Shakespeare in Chinese education
Last weekend I was introducing Shakespeare in our school with 12-14 years old kids. It was wonderful to see that Shakespeare did not need any formal introduction as he is familiar with all children along with Romeo and Juliet and even Macbeth was mentioned by a few of them. Shakespeare is known in Chinese as 莎士比亚 (Shāshìbǐyǎ).
Asked some parents after class about Shāshìbǐyǎ (Shakespeare) and they said of course, he has been part of our basic education.
How many children (or adults) in the western world have any idea about Chinese literature, art or philosophy ?
It should not be expected that famous Chinese poets from the “Golden Age of Chinese Poetry” in the Tang dynasty are being taught such as Du Fu (杜甫; 712 – 770) or Li Bai (李白; 701–762).
But I am wondering how many schools in western societies teach Confucius (孔子; 551-479 BC) in history or social science class.
The philosophy of Confucius emphasizes personal and governmental morality, correctness of social relationships, justice and sincerity, and is strongly embedded in today’s Chinese society.
The Shakespeare-like plays which we made in class were great fun, displaying a true feel of Shakespeare’s world by the kids.