Title: Classics for Children Education
Prof. Wang defines classics as valuable books. In the history of every ethnic group, there are some widely accepted classics. For example, China has the Four Books and Five Classics（四書五經）, India has the Vedic and Buddhist scriptures, and the Western world has the Bible. In the process of cultural exchange with other nations, our Chinese forefathers demonstrated excellent manners and very open minds. In contrast with ancient times, facing the challenge of modern Western culture, many Chinese have gone to extremes. They believed that since Oriental and Western cultures are incompatible, in order to westernize our country, we must renounce Oriental culture.
Under such a guideline, on January 19 in the first year of the Republic of China (1912), the Minister of the Education Department issued an order to abolish the “classics recitation curriculum” in all elementary schools. From then on, young children were no longer taught to read the classics. Meanwhile, with the promotion of colloquial Chinese, Chinese people gradually lost the ability to read the classics, much less understand the ideas in them. As a result, there has been a gap in the transmission of Chinese culture.
Being too rigid in following American educational theories, the Chinese teach children according to the development of their faculty of understanding. One important concept is not teaching children what they are unable to understand. This theory totally ignores the exploration of children’s faculty of memory. Actually the golden period for the development of the memory is from birth to thirteen years of age. If children are not given valuable literature to memorize in their golden early years so that it can become deeply ingrained in their minds, then that precious time will have been wasted, and their minds will be occupied by other material of little spiritual or cultural value. Young children have strong retention power but are still weak in understanding. That’s why reciting classics is appropriate for them. Once they have memorized something useful, although they may not understand it immediately, as they grow older and understand more, they will be able to retrieve it and apply it in their lives. The practical method of teaching children to recite classics is very simple. Teachers or parents just need to select some valuable books, then have the children recite them over and over.
For the Chinese kids living abroad, if they learn Chinese by reciting Classics, they could master Chinese much more efficiently and get in touch with the essence of Chinese culture.