Culture Insider: Four things you may not know about teachers in ancient China长大后我就成了你：关于“先生”你应该知道的4件事儿！ 时间:2017-09-09 单词数:6620
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We all know of China’s long history. It’s a history that dates back as early as 1200 BC. A major part of China’s history is its education.
School education in China has a long history. In the spring and autumn periods (770 BC – 476 BC), private schools prevailed. Many scholars of different schools of thought began spreading their knowledge through various ways of teaching.
Kongzi, or Confucius, the great educator, devoted his life to the private school system. He would go on to hold a legacy as one of the great educators in China. Not only him, but all teachers in China were highly respected by society.
Today China honours teachers by dedicating a special day for them. For the past 33 years, 10 September is Teachers’ Day in China. It’s a day for people to show their respect and gratitude to teachers for their hard work and contributions to society.
Here are four things you should know about teachers in ancient China.
1. Teachers’ Day
Long before there was a Teachers’ Day, disciples (students) honoured their teacher’s birthday with a simple but solemn ceremony during Western Zhou Dynasty (1046 BC – 771 BC). The Chinese showed their appreciation for teachers by performing a series of special salutes.
Since Western Han Dynasty (202 BC – 8 AD), more and more emperors used 27 August in the traditional Chinese calendar to worship Confucius as this day is his birthday. They also used this day to entertain teachers in Taixue (Imperial College).
In Tang Dynasty (618 – 907), Confucius Memorial Ceremony was held on Confucius’ birthday in the capital of the country as well as the capital of each province. Teachers who were chosen by governments at all levels got a bonus from the central government. The custom carried on until Qing Dynasty (1636 – 1912), and that day was regarded as Teacher’s Day.
2. Teachers’ payment
In ancient China, teachers’ payment is a bunch of dried meat. That’s because meat was a luxury at that time. Only aged people in ordinary families or rich people were fortunate enough to eat meat. People sent teachers dried meat to show their respects when private schools first emerged.
Normally, a teacher’s payment includes salary, accommodation and festival gifts. There was no fixed tuition fee; generally the parents paid teachers according to their household income. Both money and basic foodstuff could be paid in exchange for tuition.
Masters of family-run private schools also sent teachers extra money or extra gifts on three festivals and two birthdays. The three festivals include the Dragon Boat Festival, Mid-Autumn Day and the Spring Festival, while the two birthdays include Confucius’ birthday as well as the teacher’s birthday.
3. Apprentice to a teacher
In ancient China, children began school between the ages of four to seven. Since there was no scheduled time to begin a new term in ancient China, the most important thing for parents was to choose a prestigious teacher or a creditable school.
The teachers were usually very educated locals. Parents would prepare many gifts and rewards for them. They would also write letters of invitation asking the educated person to be their children’s teacher.
If the teacher agreed, parents chose an auspicious day for their child to enter school, and prepared some school supplies, which included desks, chairs, and four treasures of the study (writing brush, ink stick, ink slab and paper).
4. The first writing ceremony
On entrance day, parents would take their children to attend the first writing ceremony. Before that, children would kneel on the ground to kowtow for the statue of Confucius nine times, and kowtow for their teacher three times.
The first writing ceremony, also called Qi Meng (enlightenment) ceremony, was a very important ceremony for every student before they were admitted to their school. During the ceremony, the teacher would put a red dot on the child’s forehead representing the opening of wisdom’s eye.
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