Chinese Pedagogic Discourse – Professor Wu, Zhejaing University

In a eurocentric field of education discourse (and all its baggage), Popkewitz’s introduction included this qoute from his work: “Disturb the common sense of western and chinese thought … to resist the demands of discourse that exist in public domains.”

Can we talk about Confucian heritage in terms of memorization? literary interpretation? teachers as the authority? students as the dependent? These are the words of education.

Key questions:

  • What pedagogical vision is unveiled in Chinese dialog?
  • What counts as knowledge and learning?
  • Where does the meaning-making process occur?

Let’s look at Confusius talking to his student, Tsze-kung. Analects 1:15

When should the teacher speak?

“I never enlighten anyone who has not been driven into being ‘fen’ and never express to anyone who has not got into being ‘fei'”

The purpose of the teacher is to help the student express somethiing in language that they already have inside.

What should be talked about? What is offered by the teacher?

“To learn is to know the way of growing. By growing it means polishing, carving, transforming and vbecoming” No need to grow to fast.

He responds by using a cultual poem.

“Poetry is the saying of the unconcealedness of what is” (Heidegger)

“If you do not learn poetry, you will not know how to speak” (Analects 16:13)

So what is the contemporary Poetry?

Confucius refuses to talk about his poetry until the student who is ready. “Only the students who already understands can listen” (Heidegger)

If you go today to China, the classroom will look much different than what Confusious talked about. Subject has become object. They use “grids of specification,” like Foucault talks about.

A couple things about the modern thinking:

  • Only the things that fit together in a system are worth knowing.
  • Attributes such as author, phlosphor, teacher are new constructions.
  • Qualification is the most important thing


What is History in this ancient view?  History is an active thing, happening right now. The historian is a neutral documenter, recoding what is done and what is dais, side-by-side.

We have to think about this because history is a very important source of meaning.

How can we evade value judgement?

These days, democracy is considered the image of peace. But you could ask, what is the source of meanings beyond human-made value?

Ritual Hermeneutics Vs. Reason

Philosophy is not a theory but an activity

The term langiage-game is meant to bring into prominence the fact that the speaking of language is part of an activity, or form of life

Question: Does Confucius’ view of education work in the k-12 environment?

The division of knowledge into subjects and grades is a human construction and the cause of many problems.

Question: 1. Given the importance of confusious in Chine, how did wrote memorization become so important? 2. Has the dialog become a ritual itself?

Ritual is not something superficial, it is the action of meaning. If you visit a village today, the design of the houses and community follows the ritual. I memorize in order to store so they become lenses to my life.

“Family, raising children, is more important that governing nations”


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