Firefighting teens and Confucian philosophy
So, I haven’t really mentioned anything about my classes here in China. Although I’m constantly learning as I meet new people or learn different intricacies in Chinese culture, I do have formal lectures.
Usually the lectures start my day at various university classrooms and provide some insight on an upcoming activity. Other times, the lectures are fit in our schedule where possible, even if it means doing some lecturing after we finish our dinner on the road.
Also, lectures are almost always followed up with a small presentation and discussion by one of eight students on three articles out of our book.
At any rate, no one lecture or article discussion has stood out as especially notable — except for this morning’s lecture. This morning Dr. (Jing) Luo opened with a lecture on Confucius philosophy, Daoism and Legalism. He described some popular beliefs in each and provided quotations from the authors.
One such quotation from the author of Daoism is, “when you do nothing at all, you do good.”
I found this lecture especially interesting, because I enjoyed examining the mindset that aided in the governing of China for thousands of years. Likewise, it was interesting to look back on the effects of those mindsets and determine what may or may not work best for ruling an entire country under one umbrella of thoughts.
Ultimately, it was the trip to the local middle school, coupled with our lecture on Chinese philosophy, which really painted a solid picture of those philosophies at work.
In the Zibo High Tech Experimental middle school, the children learn everything from psychology to firefighting techniques. I was in awe as the children paraded around the dirt schoolyard in perfect unison, in all their perfect uniforms. Some of the marching or physical education stretching they did I had only ever seen before at the Air Force basic training I attended.
The headmaster of the school gave our group a brief introduction to the school that included their training in mathematics, martial arts, terracotta flute playing, football (soccer), psychology, morality and English, Japanese and Chinese classes.
It comes as no surprise their school day lasts from 8 a.m. to 5:40 p.m. (nearly four hours longer than the middle school I went to), but I was absolutely shocked to find out the young pre-teens actually live on campus Monday through Friday!
Dr. Luo and I had a discussion on the way back to our university about how the education policies in China today parallel a very Confucian mindset.
“Everyone can learn. Learning is nobility, not birth rights.”
“Learning without thinking is useless. Thinking without learning is dangerous.”