Philosophical Influences on Education in China: Different Schools of Thought on Self-Cultivation


This essay takes a holistic look at the philosophy of education in China from the antiquity to the present time, with an emphasis on the notion of self-cultivation in different schools of thought. The purpose of the study is to draw out the positive aspects of Chinese philosophy for newer generations to carry forward the cultural heritage for a healthy development of their mind, body, and spirit in the 21st century and beyond. The study is meaningful since the Chinese civilization can be traced back at least 5,000 years, and perhaps even further. Its endurance, intellectual and cultural contributions to the world civilization, and China's current rise as a world leading political and economic superpower, makes it especially worth examination. The paper is structured around four key themes: the quest for harmony, the pursuit of happiness, the search for health, and the action for healing. The article concludes with a suggestion of an integrated educational philosophy for contemporary Chinese educational practice. The study may have global implications as Confucius Institutes and Classrooms have been established worldwide since 2004 to teach Chinese language and culture. The localization and smooth integration of Chinese philosophy with Western ideologies in these countries is the key to bringing world peace and harmony.