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and the name Cheng Chun ceased to be used. It is quite possi-
ble then that the two names representing the same institution for
higher learning existed during different times of the same dynasty.
However, most writers seem to favor the interpretation making
Cheng Chun and Pi Yung two distinct institutions. Thus the
imperial edition of the Book of Rites gives a chart illustrating
the position of each of the five institutions. Pi Yung is repre-
sented as being in the center of the capital; Cheng Chun in the
south; Shang Hsiang in the north; Tung Hsu in the east; and
Ku Tsung in the west. The name Pi Yung was reserved to
designate the college in the imperial capital, and the corre-
sponding institution found in the capital cities of feudal states
was known as Pan Kung.

Regarding schools existing in the feudal states during the
Chou dynasty, we are told that each hamlet (lli) had halls of
study called Shu; each village (tang) had a school called Hsiang
or Hsu; each district (chou) had a school called Hsu; each de-
partment of a state (hsiang) had a college called Hsiang. 2 Shu
refers to the two halls of study which were found on the sides
of a gate situated at the entrance of the street composing the
little village lii. According to the usage of the people of the time
of Chou, each day, after the opening of the work of the spring,
all the inhabitants of each village, men and women, in going
out to the fields in the morning and in returning home in the
evening, received instruction in the halls of study. The instruc-
tion was given by men of strong moral character chosen from
the former officers of the state, who retired from public service
upon reaching the age of seventy. The village school is some-
times called Hsiang, and sometimes called Hsu. Both of these
names were carried over from the schools of former dynasties.
The district school called Hsu also derived its name from the
dynasty of Hsia when it represented a kind of gymnasium for
instruction and practice of archery. The name Hsiang, given
to the college of each department of each feudal state, had its
origin in the time of Shun, when it was a college of higher ed-
ucation.



'According to the system adopted by the Ohon dynasty for the division of the
people, every twenty-five families make one lii; every 500 families mako one tang;
five tang, or 2,500 families, make one chou; five chou, or 120,000 familios, make one
hsiang; and a number of hsiang make up one principality or feudal state. The
number of hsiang which make up each principality changes from time to timo.



18 The Chinese System of Public Education

Content of Education

In the description of the various schools of the imperial cap-
ital and those of the capital cities of the feudal states, we have
observed that reading and writing were taught in Shang Hsiang,
dancing was taught in Tung Hsu, rituals were taught in Ku
Tsung, and music in Cheng Chun. These represent merely
special subjects taught to princes and to sons of nobles and
officers. In addition, students were given training in ethical
ideas and in personal morality, as well as poetry, mathematics,
archery, charioteering, and various other arts useful in the life
of the time. The whole curriculum of the time of the Chou
dynasty, according to the section on Department of Earth
(Ti-kuan) of the Book of Rites, is expressed in the following
terms: the six virtues, the six praiseworthy actions, and the
six arts. The six virtues are wisdom, benevolence, goodness,
righteousness, loyalty, and harmony. The six praiseworthy
actions are honoring one's parents, being friendly to one's
brothers, being neighborly, maintaining cordial relationships
with relatives through marriages, being trustful, and being
sympathetic. The six arts, which correspond to the Trivium
and Quadrivium of the medieval schools, consist of rituals,
music, archery, charioteering, writing, and mathematics. A
liberal education includes five kinds of ritual, five kinds of
music, five ways of archery, five ways of directing a chariot,
six kinds of writings, and nine operations of mathematics.
Judged from the modern point of view the training was moral,
physical, and intellectual in character, and closely related to
life, preparing, as it did, the individual to participate in the
daily activities of life. The ideal of education of the time of
Chou seems to have been the harmonious and symmetrical
development of the body and mind, and may be said to repre-
sent a combination of Spartan and Athenian ideals of education,
which called for a training at once intellectual and moral, as
well as physical and military.

The chapter entitled Regulations of the Interior (Nei-tse)
of the Book of Rites contains a description of the life of a boy
and a girl in ancient times, which not only gives a more vivid
picture of the exact nature of education, but also shows the dif-
ference between the training of a boy and that of a girl. This
description when translated reads as follows:



Ancient Educational System and its Decadence 19

Career of a Boy

At six years of age the child is taught the numbers (1, 10,
100, 1000, 10,000) and the names of the points of the compass.
At seven years of age the boys and the girls do not sit on the
same mat; they do not eat together. At eight years of age,
children should follow the older persons in entering and going
out of the gate of the house, in sitting upon the mat, and in drink-
ing and eating. They begin to be taught to show deference,
that is, to give precedence to others.

At nine years the youth is taught to distinguish days (the
first day of the month, the day of the full moon, and the names
of the days in the cycle of sixty). At ten years the youths go
out, and commence to engage in occupations outside the house.
They dwell for a certain time away from home to study writing
and mathematics. For their clothing, they do not wear pure
silk. In the performance of ceremonial rites and in the usages
of the school the master commences and the children follow his
movements. In the morning and in the evening they study
the practices and habits of children of ten years. They ask
questions of those who are older; they trace characters upon
tablets of bamboo and learn to pronounce them.

At thirteen years of age they study music; they read aloud
songs in verse. They dance the dance "Cho." When they
have completed fifteen years, they dance the dance "Siang."
They learn archery and charioteering.

At twenty years the young man becomes of age. He com-
mences to study the rituals. He can wear clothing made of
fur and of pure silk; he executes the dance of Ta-hia (instituted
by Yu). He practices sincerely filial piety and fraternal love;
he extends his acquaintances, but he teaches not (because he
fears that his ideas may not yet be sufficiently pure) . He keeps
to himself, and does not push himself forward.

At thirty years he marries; he commences to perform the
duties of the man (i.e., he receives a field to cultivate, and
fulfills the duties toward the state). He extends his studies,
but not regularly (if he has a subject which pleases him, then
he studies). He enters into league with his friends and com-
pares the purity of their intentions.

At forty years of age he commences to enter into public offices
of the second order; according to the nature of affairs, he ex-



20 The Chinese System of Public Education

presses his opinions, he produces his observations; if the orders
of superiors are conformable to good rules, then he fulfills
his duty and obeys; if they are not, then he withdraws himself
from public service.

At fifty years of age he receives the higher insignia, becomes
a prefect, and enters into the offices of the first order. At
sixty years of age he withdraws from public affairs.

Career of a Girl

The girl, at the age of ten, no longer goes out of the house;*
as soon as she reaches this age, she remains at home. The
instructress teaches her to be polite and modest, to listen and
obey. The girl occupies herself with roping the hemp and silk,
and in weaving. She learns to do the work of women, such as
the making of clothing. She supervises the family sacrifices;
she brings the wine, the extracted juices, the baskets and earthen
vessels, the macerated plants, and the minced meats. In the
performance of rites, she helps to place the objects to be offered.

At fifteen years of age she pins up her hair (if she is betrothed) ;
at twenty years she marries. If she loses her father or mother
at this age, she marries at twenty-three years of age. If it is
a regular marriage she becomes a legitimate wife; if it is a
marriage without formalities, she becomes a concubine.

The descriptions just given indicate plainly the separation
of the studies of boys and girls after the age of ten. The girls
were then obliged to remain inside the house, occupying them-
selves only with the duties usually assigned to women; 4 and judg-
ing from the silence of the Book of Rites, they learned neither
reading and writing nor mathematics. In fact, this kind of knowl-
edge is mentioned only in the studies of male children, and is
given to them only after they have reached the age of ten years.
These facts are sufficient to show that during the Chou dynasty
there was little opportunity provided for the intellectual train-
ing of women. This is not to be taken, however, to mean that
the people of ancient China did not realize the importance of



* This usage no doubt refers to girls of the upper class, for in connection with the
village schools we have observed that it was customary in the time of Chou for men
and women to go out into the fields to work after the opening of the spring season.

« This statement is borne out by other documentary evidences. For example,
one reads in the Book of Odes that a girl learns how to prepare the wine and how to
cook food, and that she endeavors not to be burdensome to her parents.



Ancient Educational System and its Decadence 21

women's education, but rather to indicate that intellectual train-
ing was not regarded as an essential part of women's education
because their sphere of duty is limited to the home. In the
education of women great emphasis was laid on the up-build-
ing of moral conduct and on the inculcation of feminine virtues.
It is recorded in the Ceremonial Rites of Chou that the imperial
wives systematized the laws for educating females in order
that the ladies of the Palace might be instructed in morals,
conversation, manners, and work, and that in the good old
times of Chou, the virtuous women set such an excellent ex-
ample that it influenced the customs not only of that time,
but also of later generations. 5 This moral ideal of education
for women has persisted throughout the long centuries of China's
history and has been influential in molding the lives of her
women and in elevating them to the high position which they
hold in the family and in society.

Method of Education

In accordance with the chapters Hsueh Chi and Nei-tse of
the Book of Rites, which contain numerous passages touching
upon education, the principles of instruction held by the ancient
Chinese are extremely modern in character, revealing a keen
insight into the true nature of the human mind. Mere memory
work, characteristic of Chinese education in later generations,
was strongly condemned. Education was not regarded as an
artificial procedure by which one comes into possession of for-
mal knowledge of some sort, but as the process of development
of the individual from within. We are told that learning should
proceed from the easy to the difficult, from the coarse to
the fine; that transition from one step to another should be
gradual rather than sudden; and that great things should be
accomplished through the accumulation of many small things.
Again, one should concentrate his attention upon one cning at
a time, and should not scatter his thoughts. In the effort
to learn, the student should be left to exert his own powers, so that
his brain will not be injured and his spirit of independence may
not fail to be fully developed.

In addition to the information found in the Book of Rites,
many of the aphorisms of Confucius also reveal something of

'Cf. Burton: The Education of Women, pp. 11-33.



22 The Chinese System of Public Education

the educational method of his time. On the importance of
reasoning in the learning process, Confucius says, "Learning
without thought is labor lost, and if one learns only by memory
and does not think, all remains dark." On self-activity, he says,
"I shall not teach until the scholars desire to know something,
and I do not help until the scholars need my help; if of the four
corners of a thing I have shown and explained one corner and
the scholars do not find for themselves the other three, I do
not explain further." Confucius also seems to believe in the
principle of leading upward from easy things to the difficult
ones. Thus Yen Yu, speaking of the way in which he is taught
by Confucius, says, "The kind master leads me step by step."
The sayings of Mcncius also contain much that is suggestive
of the early methods of education 6 . "The moral man," he says,
"teaches in five ways. 1, There are some he influences, like
a timely rain; 2, with some he perfects their virtue; 3, with
some he brings out their talents; 4, of some he answers the ques-
tions; 5, some he teaches privately. These are the five methods
which the moral man uses in teaching." In other words, every
teacher should teach his pupils in various ways, according to
their individuality. Of these five classes of students, the first,
thoroughly awake to instruction, receive it eagerly and joy-
ously; the second have more aptitude for the ethical and yield
themselves to right guidance; the third have a special inclin-
ation for this or that theoretical or practical department and
press on in that direction; the fourth are intellectual, critical
natures whose questions should be answered lest, through sup-
pressed doubts, they should end in uncertainty; the fifth are
those who specially attach themselves to the master and allow
themselves to be urged on by him.

Admission, Examination, Promotion

According to t.hpi "Ronk of Rites the colleges in the Imperial
Palace and in the capitals of feudal states were open not only
to the hereditary princes and other sons of the sovereign and the
eldest sons of different princes of the court, but also to the eldest
sons of the ministers, eldest sons of officers called Ta-fu and Yuen-
shih, as well as to the sons of the common people chosen from
the kingdom at large upon the basis of their merit irrespective
of their birth. Admission to the colleges was based upon merit

« Giles, H. A.: The Work of Moncius.



Ancient Educational System and its Decadence 23

determined through examination. The qualifications looked
for in such examinations were virtue, ability in managing pub-
lic affairs, and ease of expression. Students of the college for
lower education who distinguished themselves were admitted
to the College of Perfection and Equalization where they received
one glass of wine from the hands of the sovereign as a token of
distinction. On the other hand, those who failed to meet the
requirements of the examination must continue to study for
further examinations. It sometimes happened, however, that
candidates who distinguished themselves in one of the required
qualifications were also given admission to the college for higher
learning.

According to the chapter Hsueh Chi of the Book of Rites
the students were examined every second year. In the first
year an examination was given to test the ability of the student
in analyzing ancient classics and in choosing the aim of life.
In the third year an examination was given to test his per-
severance in the pursuance of studies and his sociability among
friends. In the fifth year the examination tested the extent
of his learning and the intimacy of his acquaintance with his
teacher. In the seventh year he was tested as to his way of treat-
ing knowledge and of choosing friends. By the time a student
had satisfactorily met all the above requirements he was said to
have reached "small perfection" (Siao Ch'eng). In the ninth
year an examination was again given to see whether the student
was able to classify things under their proper categories, whether
he understood things thoroughly, was able to be independent,
and was strong enough to withstand all evil influences. If he
fulfilled the requirements of this last examination he was said
to have reached "great perfection" (Ta Ch'eng).

A system of promotion from one grade of educational insti-
tution to another seems to have been in operation during the
Chou dynasty. We are told that the students who distinguish
themselves in the village schools are sent to the schools in the
district; and those who distinguish themselves in the district
schools are sent to the colleges in the department; finally, those
who distinguish themselves in the departmental colleges are
sent to the colleges in the capital city of the feudal prince, and
the best of them to the colleges of the imperial capital. Fitting
rank is given to the students as they advance from one institu-



24 The Chinese System of Public Education

tion to another as a badge of honor and distinction. The
most worthy of the students in the colleges are given official
rank and are chosen to fill administrative posts either in the
departments and districts or in the capitals of the feudal states
or the kingdom.

School Age, Term, and Year

There is a certain degree of uncertainty as to the age at which
students were admitted into schools and colleges. Thus, ac-
cording to Peh-huo-t'ung, a work of the first century of the Chris-
tian era, and several other works of equal importance, the he-
reditary prince enters the Siao Hsueh or college for lower edu-
cation at eight years of age, and the Ta Hsueh or college for
higher education at fifteen. According to Shang-shu-ta-chuen
of Ma Yung, a work of the same epoch, the eldest sons of the
imperial councillors and ministers as well as the eldest sons of
certain classes of officers enter the Siao Hsueh at the age of
eighteen, and the Ta Hsueh at the age of twenty. Biot con-
cludes that the age of admission varies according to the social
rank of the parents and that the reason why the sons of sov-
ereigns and princes were admitted at an earlier age than the
sons of officers is because the former surpassed the latter in
intelligence. Most Chinese writers, however, believe that the
age given in Peh-huo-t'ung is the correct one, that is, children
enter the institution for lower education at eight and the in-
stitution for higher education at fifteen.

The exact length of each school term and year is not known,
but there is much evidence to show that the four seasons were
taken as units of the school year, and that due care was taken
to see that the studies and occupations were adapted to the par-
ticular seasons in which they were placed. We learn, for ex-
ample, that in spring and summer students practiced archery
and various kinds of dances in Tung Hsu and recited songs in
Ku Tsung; in autumn they gathered in Ku Tsung to learn rit-
uals; in winter they learned to read and write in Shang Hsiang.
A passage depicting the educational usage of the time of Chou,
found in Shang-shu-ta-chuen of Ma Yung, furnishes further
information concerning the point in question. The passage
reads "When the plow has been placed under shelter, when the
harvest has been taken in and the work of the year finished^



Ancient Educational System and its Decadence 25

all the young men not yet married enter school. At the winter
solstice, they withdraw from the school for forty-five days to
prepare for the work of agriculture."

School Offices

In the description of public officers of the Chou dynasty found
in the Ceremonial Rites of Chou, 7 one finds mention of special
officers charged with the duty of conducting the educational
institutions at public expense and of teaching therein. Thus
we are told that the teaching of rituals and dances was under
the supervision of the directors of music; that reading and writ-
ing were given under the supervision of the director of study;
that rituals were taught under the direction of the director of
rituals and his assistants. According to the same authority,
the director of music had also the duty of overseeing the studies
in the kingdom, of gathering together students in schools, and
of taking charge of the College of Perfection and Equalization.
He and his assistant taught not only musical harmony, but
also virtue, reading, and dancing. Other educational officers
are also mentioned, including the Grand Instructor (Shih-chih)
who taught the children of the state virtues and good conduct
and the Conservator (Pao-chih) who taught the six arts. Both
the Ceremonial Rites of Chou and the Book of Rites mention
another officer attached to the ministry of war, known as Chou-
tzu, whose duty was to gather together students in the proper
schools according to the seasons of the year, to regulate their
places in the dances which they perform, to direct them in their
studies, and also to teach them paternal affection and brotherly
love. This officer was thus a kind of preceptor charged with
the task of guiding the pupils in their studies, and of exercising
a direct inspection over them. Special officers engaged in teach-
ing or conducting schools and colleges in the departments, dis-
tricts, and villages are also mentioned, including departmental
teacher (Hsiang-shih), father teacher (Fu-shih), and junior
teacher (Shao-shih). Most of these were chosen among the
virtuous old men who had retired from public service.

Number of Schools

Statistics concerning schools of that remote antiquity are
naturally incomplete, but there are sufficient data to indicate



' Ceremonial Rites of Chou: Chapter Chou-kuan.



26 The Chinese System of Public Education

something of their extent in this golden age of Chinese ed-
ucational history. According to Chou-li a certain feudal state
alone had the following schools and colleges: six departmental
colleges, thirty district schools, one hundred and fifty village
schools, and three thousand schools found in small villages
and hamlets. 8 When one multiplies these figures by the num-
ber of feudal states, one can get a rough estimate of the number
of schools and colleges that were once in existence, provided
that one takes into account the size of the various classes of
feudal states. Exact statistics regarding feudal states are,
however, not available. In T'ung Chien Kang Mu, the re-
vised version of the famous historical work by Ssii Ma Kuang,
known as T'ung Chien or Mirror of History, it is estimated that
the number of feudal states after the ascension of Wu Wang,
the first sovereign of the Chou dynasty, was seventj^, and that
the number continued to grow till it reached the eighteen hun-
dred which are found in the official petitions made at the time
of Han dynasty. This second figure, which reduces feudal
states to the dimensions of mere districts, refers probably to
the latter part of the Chou dynasty, when the great feudal
states had been divided, as generations passed, into small states.

Administration of Education

The administration of education during the time of Chou
was in the hands of the regular administrative officers of the
government. The state of Chou, which was the representative
state of the dynasty, had six departments for administrative
purposes, namely, Celestial Department, Terrestrial Depart-
ment, Department of Spring, Department of Summer, De-
partment of Autumn, and Department of Winter. 9 The min-
ister at the head of the Terrestrial Department, called Ta-
ssii-tu, had charge of the supervision of public instruction in
addition to other duties attached to the office, such as commerce,
agriculture, and police. The minister of the Terrestrial Depart-
ment accomplished his task through the various administrative
heads of all the territorial divisions, who were required not
only to administer laws but also to have general direction of



»Cf. Ho, Y. S.: Chinese Education, p. 18; Book of Rites, Chapter Wang Chih.
• The head of the Celestial Department, known as the Prime Minister (Ta-tsung-
tsai), exercised a general control over the other five departments.



Ancient Educational System and its Decadence 27

public instruction in their respective jurisdictions. It was cus-
tomary for the head of the village and that of the district to


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