Have Children with Moral Values, Responsibility and Imagination, Says Scholar Yu

June 23, 2014  Editor: Tracy Zhu
Yu Dan [cri.cn]

At a salon on family education recently held at a Primary School Affiliated to Tsinghua University, Yu Dan, famous scholar and professor of Beijing Normal University, talked about three important things she intended to remind the parents of primary students about, from her unique perspectives as both an educator and an advocate of traditional Chinese culture.
The first thing Yu reminds parents of is that each primary school student should have a basic sense of moral values, which requires enhanced education on this from both parents and school teachers.
Yu noted that in the current, highly competitive environment in China, in which every student is pushed with pressure both from the family and school to get higher grades in order to enter a good university, and then find a good job, many adults have forgotten to ask themselves what is the bottom line in children's education.
Yu pointed out that the bottom line in education is about moral education. She said each school should provide basic moral education to children including the knowledge about a person's self-being and the basic knowledge about the society's fundamental rules and regulations.
Yu noted that with this kind of education, children would learn what they should and shouldn't do in their life. First of all, students should learn that being an honest person is the basic and bottom line of being a valuable member of society.
Yu said the reason why she emphasized this is that in contemporary society, when people have utilized more and more advanced technology and access to knowledge, more and more basic moral bottom lines are being forgotten by people. This has caused many serious social problems.
The second thing Yu sought to remind Chinese parents of is that a child should learn how to be responsible for themselves. Yu explained that the reason she brings up this issue is that today many Chinese parents don't even know how to be proper parents to their single children.
Yu vividly described a typical scene in Chinese families. When a child falls down while toddling forward, the child's grandma usually rushes over to hug the child and comfort the child by complaining about the chair or even the ground, as if it is the fault of inanimate objects that caused the child to fall down. Hearing these words, the child who maybe hasn't felt much pain cries with a strong sense of grievance, and then gradually, with this kind of education, whenever the child meets some pros and cons in their life, he or she would get used to attributing the bad results to outside factors but not themselves. Such a child is likely to lack a sense of responsibility and would face more problems in their life and work in the future.
The third point Yu emphasized is that primary schools can create a free environment for the fostering of children's innovative capabilities. Yu criticized the fact that in traditional education in China, there is only one standard answer for each question, which has killed many children's ability to utilize free thinking or critical thinking.
Yu hopes Chinese primary schools can emancipate children from those standard answers and show enough respect to those children who don't follow the standard answers.
On this, Yu shared with the audience an impressive story of the early experience of a famous person in America, which shows how big the contrast between Chinese parents and American parents is.
The story is about a common middle-class family in America after the World War II (1939-1945) when America was still in the grips of economic depression. One day, before the mother was busy preparing a special dinner for the family, she had dressed her little boy in a very gentlemanly suit to eat the special dinner. While the mother was busy working in the kitchen, it rained and the boy rushed outside to play cheerfully in the rain, totally forgetting that his mother had reminded him to keep his suit clean. 
Immediately, the little boy in a nice suit changed into a dirty 'monkey'. But he played so happily in the rain that he jumped and cried to his mother with a cheerful tone when his mother asked him to come home: "Mummy! I will jump onto the moon!" For most Chinese mothers, they would shout with anger at the boy and some might hit the boy. However, this American mother said to her son after seeing the dirty clothes with a peaceful tone: "OK. It's a good idea. But just don't forget to come back to have your dinner from the moon afterwards."
This was just one common life scene in this family and the mother always treated her son in such a free way. Twenty years later, this boy really became the first human being to walk on the moon. His name was Neil Armstrong (1930-2012). He and his partner Buzz Aldrin successfully completed the greatest travel in human history and returned to the earth. He brought a lot of valuable data back to earth, which revealed the secrets of the moon. Even today, we can never forget his famous (albeit misspoken) words: "That's one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind!" And interestingly, when so many journalists interviewed him after he returned back from the moon , he said with humor the following words which are so touching: "Mommy, I have come back from the moon and I will go back home to have dinner now."
Yu asked the audience what really touched them in this true story. It is the mother's protection of a child's playful nature and a child's natural creativity. Yu noted it is this kind education that Chinese parents and Chinese schools are lacking.
Yu noted Chinese parents emphasized too much on those useful things such as learning English, learning to play the piano, or learning math to win prizes, but lacked a respect of what a child really likes and what a child really needs. And many children's genius in art or other areas are ruined.
The three points Yu emphasized have left an impression on the 700 strong audience who are mostly parents of primary students. Yu hopes her words can help more Chinese parents reflect on their education philosophy and improve their education methodology.

(Source: sohu.com/ Translated and edited by Women of China)

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