Yu Dan: Return to Genuine Family Education

January 23, 2014
Editor: Frank Zhao
Yu Dan: Return to Genuine Family Education
Yu Dan speaks about family education on December 18, 2013, at the Sohu Grand Education Conference 2013 in Beijing. [sohu.com]
Chinese parents need to rebuild family education by instilling in children the common sense to tell right from wrong, developing their accountability and fostering their trust in science and art, famous Profession Yu Dan said at an education conference in Beijing in mid-December 2013.

As an important part of the general syllabus, family education starts from the concepts people have of China’s traditional education, said Yu, a professor of Beijing Normal University best known for her interpretation of Confucian classic The Analects of Confucius on China Central Television’s Lecture Room program.

"Family education has little to do with how well we have been educated," she said. "China’s genuine family education tradition comes from farmers’ families."

Yu warned accelerating urbanization in China is breaking down traditional rural families, endangering traditional ethics.

"The past year has witnessed many social crimes that raised the public’s eyebrows," she said. "What took us by surprise was not how many, but why the crimes were committed."

Yu blamed the roots of crimes on the turmoil that destroyed China’s traditional values in the latter half of the 20th century, especially during the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976).

"Middle-aged people, many of whom are now authorities in various social areas, including myself, grew up in that era. We used to rebel against the teachers and distrusted our peers," said Yu.

"I don’t think we can attain the ability to behave ourselves if we only acquire professional knowledge," she said.

Instead, she said, she believed the aftermath of the various social upheavals, could be only healed by returning to traditional Chinese education.

"As a nation of agricultural civilization, China boasts basic values to tell right from wrong. In a rural village, illiterate elders were able to mediate quarrels between family members or neighbors, or, at least, are able to tell their children not to do things that harm society and nature," said Yu. "Teaching children the most basic common sense is the first step."

"Moreover, a rightful family education needs to foster accountable children," Yu said.

She raised the suggestion of not indulging China’s only-child generation, which is generally considered spoiled by parents and often named 'little emperors’.

School education could not undo what indulgent family education has done to children, Yu said.

Another important point every family needs to pay attention to is to have their children fully trust science and arts. "Science frees people from ignorance, while arts make their life interesting," said Yu.

Yu cautioned against the tendency to force children to learn. "Science and arts should be children’s basic needs, but not musts," she said.

"There is a debate on issues with China’s exam-oriented education, and the installation of a quality-oriented education. But I believe, really quality-oriented education comes from family and parents should do that," said Yu.

"Parents should develop children’s analytical abilities with science, which has nothing to do with whether they are able to pass their mathematics exams," she said.

"Moreover, don’t tell your children that playing the piano will increase your exam scores, or learning dancing helps you pass exams. Instead, the arts are able to help them through difficult times and with the enjoyment of life," said Yu.

Apart from the family education issue, Yu also warned education might be becoming increasingly unequal despite the Third Plenary Session of the 18 National Congress of the Communist Party of China’s promises in mid-November 2013 to promote reform.

Yu was speaking on December 18 at the Sohu Grand Education Conference 2013, which invited professionals in education to share opinions on Chinese education and related events during the year.

(Source: sohu.com/Translated and edited by womenofchina.cn)

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