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Classical Education in 17th-Century China: Accounts from Japan and Europe 17世紀中國的傳統教育:來自日本和歐洲的記載


School of Chinese Seminar

Classical Education in 17th-Century China: Accounts from Japan and Europe

講者:Professor Robert Chard



As is well known, the traditional system of education in China emphasized the memorization of the Confucian classics. Here we examine two external perspectives of Chinese education during the 17th century, looking directly at primary source texts. From Japan, we have the writings of Zhu Shunshui 朱舜水 (1600–1682), a Chinese who settled in Japan after the fall of the Ming and assisted in the effort to introduce Confucian education. He offered revealing criticisms of the Japanese approach to Confucianism and learning methods, and we have also writings by his Japanese students recording memories of the intense regimen of memorization under Zhu’s tutelage. From Europe, we have the account of Álvaro Semedo (1685–1658), a Portuguese Jesuit who lived in China for several decades. He records details of how students were educated in schools or under private tutors, and likewise stresses the intense discipline imposed by teachers and their strong sense of responsibility to their students. Semedo offers unflattering comparisons to education in Europe, which he regarded as lax, especially at elite levels of society.

衆所周知,中國傳統的教育體系強調背誦儒家經典。本演講考察日本(朱舜水的著作)、歐洲(耶穌會士塞梅多)的原始文本中關於17 世紀中國教育的兩種外部視⾓。朱舜⽔(1600-1682)是明朝覆亡後定居⽇本的中國⼈,協助引進儒家教育。他對⽇本儒家思想和學習⽅法提出了頗具啟發性的批評,其日本學生們也記錄了朱師指導下的⾼強度背誦的記憶。阿爾羅· 塞梅多(Álvaro Semedo,1685-1658 )則是來自葡萄牙的耶穌會士,在中國⽣活了數十年。他詳載了中國學⽣在學校或私⼈導師下的教育過程,並同樣強調了老師嚴格的紀律和對學⽣的強烈責任感。塞梅多將之與歐洲的教育進行了並不恭維的比較,指出歐洲的教育並不嚴謹,而社會精英階層的教育尤其如此。

Professor Chard earned his PhD from UC Berkeley in 1990. He taught modern and classical Chinese at SOAS, University of London, from 1988 to 1991, and then went on to teach classical Chinese and Chinese history at the University of Oxford from 1990 until 2022. Currently he is Professor of Chinese Classics (Emeritus) in the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies at Oxford and a Senior Research Fellow at St Anne's College, Oxford. His recent publication is Creating Confucian Authority: The Field of Ritual Learning in Early China to 9 CE (Brill, 2021).


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