Do the Chinese think of education the same way Americans and Europeans do?

December 21, 2016

To understand the Chinese mind, it’s a good idea to start with Confucius (552 – 479 BC), who is arguably the most influential person in Chinese history, and by extension the rest of East Asia: Korea, Japan, the Philippines, and Southeast Asia. The reason for this is because China was a regional super power for more than fifteen hundred years, and its merchants helped spread Chinese cultural influence and values through trade.

An important Confucian influence on Chinese society and the rest of East Asia was the focus on education and scholarship, and it’s no secret that Chinese (and other Asians) students put in more hours in classroom study than their Western counterparts; even in the United States.

In fact, we can measure the influence of Confucius on even Asian-American students in the United States. For instance, in 2015, the U.S. Department of Education reported that (high school) graduation rates vary by race; with 89.4 percent of Asia/Pacific Islander students graduating on time compared to 87.2 percent of whites, 76.3 percent of Hispanics, and 72.5 percent of blacks.

In China, the hallmark of Confucius’ thought was his emphasis on education and study. He disparaged those who had faith in natural understanding or intuition and argued that the only real understanding of a subject comes from long and careful study.

Confucius goal was to create gentlemen who carried themselves with grace, spoke correctly, and demonstrated integrity in all things. He had a strong dislike of the sycophantic “petty men,” whose clever talk and pretentious manner easily won them an audience of easy-to-fool people. In fact, it’s safe to say that Confucius would have despised Donald Trump.

Confucius political/educational philosophy was also rooted in his belief that a ruler should learn self-discipline, should govern his subjects by his own example, and should treat them with love and concern. Donald Trump fails this test too.

To understand the importance of education in Western culture, we first look at what Plato (about 423 – 346 BC), Socrates (about 469 – 399 BC), and Aristotle (384 – 322 BC) thought.

When Plato talked about the education of the body, he said we had to take Spartan military gymnastics as a model, because it was based on physical exercises and prescribed severe control over all pleasures. Plato also argued for the public character of education and that it had to be given in buildings especially built for that purpose. In these schools, boys and girls should receive the same teaching and that the educational process should start as soon as possible, as young as three-to-six-years old.

Socrates believed that there were different kinds of knowledge, important and trivial. He acknowledges that most of us know many “trivial” things, and he said that the craftsman possesses important knowledge, the practice of his craft, but that this is important only to the craftsman. But Socrates thought that the most important of all knowledge was “how best to live.” He concluded that this was not easily answered, and most people lived in shameful ignorance regarding matters of ethics and morals. Socrates devoted much thought to the concept of belief, through the use of logic.

Aristotle, however, said that the purpose of the state was to educate the people; to make them virtuous. He said virtue was the life principle of the state. The goal of the state was to educate with a view toward its own institutions (to preserve them); through the political education of all citizens.

It’s also safe to say that Donald Trump doesn’t fit what Plato, Socrates, and Aristotle thought about the proper educated citizen.

It is also arguable that the Bible probably has a larger impact on what many Westerners think about the value of an education, but the focus of the Bible is mostly on fear of the Lord when it comes to learning—a mixed message at best when compared to what Confucius, Plato, Socrates and Aristotle thought.

Proverbs 9:9-10 says, “Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.

Proverbs 1:7 – The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.

2 Timothy 3:16 – All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,

2 John 1:9 – Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.

Donald Trump also fails the Bible’s test too, because he prefers people to fear Donald Trump and not the Lord.


Watch the video to discover that the agenda of the Common Core State Standards and the autocratic Corporate Charter School reform movement in the United States is similar to the agenda of the Prussian Model of Obedience.

In conclusion, the value of an education is clearly defined by Confucius providing a solid foundation for East Asia, while in the West, the message is murky and confusing at best, because the Bible focuses on fear of the Lord, and that Scripture is profitable for teaching and training the righteous compared to Plato’s focus on harsh Spartan physical training in addition to severe self-control over all pleasures starting at an early age, and Aristotle focused on preserving government through political education of the people. In other words, brainwashing them.

Socrates may have been closer to the way Confucius thought about the value of an education, but not as clearly defined as Confucius was.

Out of this muddle of Western thought eventually emerged the 18th century, Prussian Industrial Model of education more aligned with what Aristotle thought, and this system was adopted by most of Western Culture during the industrial revolution, including the United States.

The Prussian system instituted compulsory attendance, specific training for teachers, national testing for all students (used to classify children for potential job training), national curriculum set for each grade and mandatory kindergarten.

The Prussian public education model attempted to instill social obedience in the citizens through indoctrination. Every individual had to become convinced, in the core of his being, that the King was just, his decisions always right, and the need for obedience paramount. There was no room for individual thought or questioning authority that would develop in the United States and other Western countries after World War II.

Maybe the blind obedience that gave power to dictators like Hitler had something to do with that change in Western thought about public education, but today, with the emphasis on the Common Core State Standards and harsh punishment of children and teachers that attend publicly funded, autocratic corporate charter schools, it’s clear that the United States may be returning to the harsher Aristotelian, Prussian Model of education to brainwash children so they grow up and give blind obedience to their leaders; something, for sure,  Donald Trump will agree with.

Discover The Return of Confucious

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the unique love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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Traveling West from China

December 20, 2016

No, this post is not about illegal or legal immigrants sneaking into the United States from China. This post is about China’s classic novel, “Journey to the West”, also known as “The Monkey King”.

There are four novels that are Chinese classics: Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Dream of Red Chamber, Journey to the West, and The Outlaws of the Marsh (some of these classics have been released with other titles), but there are 3 Chinese books titled “Journey to the West”.  And the West they are talking about is west to India; not to Europe or North America and the U.S.

One Journey to the West is nonfiction about K’iu Ch’ang Ch’un, who traveled along the Silk Road and visited Genghis Khan in Persia between AD 1221 and 1224.

The second Journey to the West is another nonfiction account of Hsuan-Tsang (Xuanzang,  AD 602  – 664), a Chinese Buddhist monk who traveled to India, mostly on foot, to bring back Buddhist scriptures.

The third Journey to the West is the fictional romance that introduces the Monkey King and his friend the Pig. This Journey to the West is a classic Chinese mythological novel. It was written during the Ming Dynasty (AD 1368 – 1644) and was based on traditional folktales. Consisting of 100 chapters, this fantasy relates the adventures of a Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907) priest, Sanzang, and his three disciples, Monkey, Pig, and Friar Sand, as they travel west in search of Buddhist Sutras.

Discover Wu Zetian, China’s only female emperor

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the unique love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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China sold porcelain, tea, and silk to the West; the West forced Opium on China

December 14, 2016

Chinese porcelain originated in the Shang Dynasty (16th century BC), and Jingdezhen in Jiangxi province is a well-known Chinese city where porcelain has been an important production center in China since the early Han Dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD).

Caravans carried China’s famous porcelains west: ceramic lusterware, lacquerware, snow-white vases, bowls, glasses, and dishes with sophisticated patterns. Only the Chinese knew the secret of making the thinnest and resonant porcelain, making it very expensive in European markets. Silk Road Encyclopedia.com and Gotheborg.com

Chinese porcelain was also available in the American colonies as early as the 17th century, but it did not become commonplace until after 1730. Before the U.S. Revolution, porcelain was exported to the colonies mainly by English and Dutch traders. European traders sailed to Canton (Guangzhou) in southern China, exchanged their goods (mostly opium) for Chinese products, and then returned to sell porcelain and other Chinese imports on the European and colonial markets. In addition to porcelain, teas, and silks were also exported from China in large quantities. Mount Vernon.org

Early American Trade With China says, “The demand for Chinese products: tea, porcelain, silk, and nankeen (a coarse, strong cotton cloth), continued after the U.S. Revolution. Having seen the British make great profits from the trade when the colonies were prevented from direct trade with China, Americans were eager to secure these profits for themselves.”

This hunger for Chinese products, while the Chinese found little in the West to buy, led to the Opium Wars, which Britain and France started, and won, to force China to even the trade imbalance.

China continued to sell the West silk, porcelain. and tea, while the West sold opium to China even though China’s emperors did not want the opium trade.

Discover China’s First Emperor Qin Shi Huangdi, the man that unified China more than 2,000 years ago.

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the unique love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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China’s Golden Age of Verse

December 13, 2016

The Golden Age of Poetry in China was during the Tang Dynasty (618 – 906 AD).  One book of Chinese Love Poetry edited by Jane Portal (© 2004) was published by Barnes & Noble Books (ISBN 0-7607-4833-0).

Most people outside of China don’t think of love poems when they think of China. However, there has to be a reason for more than 1.3 billion people, other than the Great Wall of China, the Pacific Ocean and the Himalayan Mountains that helped shelter China from global wars and invasions that rocked the rest of the world for centuries until the West invaded China during the 19th century Opium Wars to force, if possible, a different set of values on China’s collective culture.

For poetry lovers, China’s love poetry imparts a sense of the private passion that beats in the Chinese heart. The three arts of poetry, calligraphy and painting, the Triple Excellence, are represented on the pages of the book Jane Portal edited.

As you can see, the Chinese are a passionate people; they just don’t dramatize these passions publicly as many Westerners do.

The following poem by Du Mu (803 – 852 AD) is an English translation.

Deeply in love, but tonight
we seem to be passionless;
I just feel, before our last cup of wine
a smile will not come.
The wax candle has sympathy ­­–
weeps at our separation:
Its tears for us keep rolling down
till day breaks.

Discover Wu Zetian, China’s only female emperor, who ruled during the Tang Dyansty.

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the unique love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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China’s Queen of the Golden Voice

December 7, 2016

Jingyun Dagu is a form of Chinese opera where stories are often sung in a Beijing dialect accompanied by a drum along with one or two other musical instruments.

The focus is on the singing that depicts stories in short episodes.

Dagu was first popular near the end of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).

One super star of Dagu was Luo Yusheng, who was born in 1914, and died at 89 in 2002. Her stage name was Xiao Caiwu. She studied under Su Huanting at the age of nine in order to play Laosheng (old man) roles in Peking Opera. At 14, she gave performances in singing without musical accompaniment in Nanjing, before she formally switched to Jingyun Dagu at the age of 17.

In 1934, Luo Yusheng studied at the Liu School of Jingyun Dagu (storytelling in Beijing dialect while beating a drum, accompanied by two or three persons who play three-stringed instruments).

At one time she was well known by most of China, and her fans called her the Queen of the Golden Voice.

After the PRC was founded in 1949, Dagu singers were regarded as people’s artists or actors, who sang traditional stories and new operas with themes reflecting contemporary life. For instance, patriotic Communist stories like Glorious Journey, Red Flag Over Mount Everest, and Patriotism and Roaring Waves.

The singer/drummer is often accompanied by the Sihu, a four-stringed instrument similar to an Erhu, and Pipa (lute) in addition to three-stringed lutes and wooden clappers.

Discover Wu Zetian, China’s only female emperor

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the unique love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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Does Japan both hate and envy China at the same time?

December 6, 2016

Poor relations with Japan started as far back as 1840, when Japan joined the British, French, and Americans during the Opium Wars to gain concessions to sell opium to the Chinese.

In 1843, under the agreement of the Nanjing Treaty, Shanghai became one of 5 treaty ports to be turned into a colonial city under the control of foreign countries: Great Britain, France, America, and Japan.

Imagine New York City divide and governed by Russia, China, Turkey, and Iran.

Until 1871, most Japanese had no contact with the Chinese. Then getting to know the Chinese caused many Japanese to think that the Chinese were ethnically inferior since they were different from the Japanese, and most Japanese haven’t changed their minds to this day.

In 1884, Japanese and Chinese troops faced off in Korea, which ended in a lopsided stalemate in Japan’s favor.

In 1894, Japan and China fought their first war over Korea. Like Tibet, Korea had been a tributary state of China for centuries.

China was defeated in 1895, lost Korea, and a large portion of Eastern Manchuria to Japan. Then in 1870, Japan annexed the islands of the Ryukyu Kingdom that had also been a tributary to China during the 17th century.

A Ryukyuan envoy begged England for help, but the British ruled that the islands belonged to Japan instead of China.

On July 7, 1937, Japan launched a war to conquer China. Over the next 8 years, Japan occupied a large portion of China. To this day Japan has never apologized for The Rape of Nanking and other atrocities in China during World War II that resulted in millions of Chinese deaths. The Chinese estimate that they lost about 15- 20 million people in World War II, and most of those deaths were civilians. An additional 2.2 million deaths were Chinese troops who fought to resist Japan’s invasion.

“The Chinese have resented the Japanese ever since Japan conquered and occupied China in the 1930s and 40s. The Japanese prime minister’s yearly visits to a Tokyo shrine for war veterans has always played in China as a reminder of Japan’s wartime brutality and continued lack of remorse.” U.S. News & World Report

Long memoires and hard feelings still smolder and sometimes ignite into flames.

Since China has risen from the ashes, Japan should walk softly around the mighty reborn dragon, and remember where its architecture, written language, and one of its major religions came from. Linguistics.byu.edu says, “Japanese writing is clearly taken from Chinese.”

Japan’s ancient architecture also came from China. The introduction of Buddhism in Japan (from China) during the sixth century was a catalyst for large-scale temple building using complicated techniques in wood. Influence from the Chinese Tang and Sui Dynasties led to the foundation of the first permanent capital in Nara. Its checkerboard street layout used the Chinese capital of Chang’an as a template for its design.

In The Spread of Chinese Civilization to Japan, Peter Stearns writes, “its full impact on global history has not been felt until the last century or so, the transmission of key elements in Chinese culture to the offshore islands that came to make up Japan clearly provides one of the most important examples of the spread of civilization from a central core area to neighboring or overseas peoples. In the 1st centuries A.D., the peoples of Japan imported a wide range of ideas, techniques of production, institutional models, and material objects from the Chinese mainland.”

Discover China’s First Emperor Qin Shi Huangdi, the man that unified China more than 2,000 years ago.

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the unique love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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Kung Fu Cricket Mania

November 30, 2016

The first time I read about China’s singing crickets was in “Empress Orchid” by Anchee Min.  Retired concubines spent time carving gourds where these crickets lived. The crickets entertained empresses, emperors, and princes.

Then I learned about China’s fighting critics from a comment left on this Blog, and there was a link included.

While writing this post, I Googled the subject. In Gardening4us.com, Catherine Dougherty says, “Cricket culture in China dates back to the Tang Dynasty (618 – 906 AD).

“It was during this time the crickets first became respected for their powerful ability to ‘sing’ and a cult formed to capture and cage them. And in the Sung Dynasty (960 – 1276 AD)… cricket fighting became popular.”

The Chinese consider the cricket to be a metaphor for summer and courage. Pacific Pest Inc. says, “Crickets are popular pets and are considered good luck in some countries; in China, crickets are sometimes kept in cages, and various species of crickets are a part of people’s diets … and are considered delicacies of high cuisine in places like Mexico and China.”

Soon, the United States may be added to this list, because Exo, a U.S. company, is producing protein bars from cricket flower. “After cleaning the crickets, we dry them to remove the moisture and mill them into fine flour. The result is slightly nutty tasting flour that is high in protein and micronutrients.”

From Home Made in China, we learn “Summer used to mean picking berries in the yard and making jam, canning green beans, going to the farmer’s market, BBQs, lawn mowing, hiking, swimming. Now my whole family looks forward to the arrival of singing crickets.”

Discover Wu Zetian, China’s only female emperor

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the unique love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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