Wandering China

An East/West pulse of China's fourth rise from down under.

Plan to teach a million kids filial piety [China Daily]


Can filial piety be taught? Is there a correlation between education and filial piety?

At the very least, China Daily acknowledges the heated public debate over the matter.

This is a another lesson on the Chinese mind. This time, it seems a pre-emptive rehash and solidification of its core collectivist nature/nurture as it increasingly interfaces with the global marketplace and its socio-economic pros and cons.

The China National Association for Ethical Studies announced Sunday its five-year plan to ‘help 1 million children between the ages of 4 and 6 learn about filial piety, which is deeply rooted in China’s traditional culture.’ The five-year plan will feature 30 to 60 selected pre-school pupils from each county receiving etiquette and morality lessons for 100 days. If they pass, they move to to receive an added three years of study to be deemed ‘dutiful Chinese children’.

In conjunction with the Chinese Festival for Filial Obedience, a seven-day tour was launched in October at Renmin University to promote the Chinese traditional spirit of filial obedience by the China National Association For Ethical Studies and a district government of Ningbo, Zhejiang province. During the tour, ‘filial obedience models’ are invited to tell their own stories to university students.

Described as simply another new morality drive, the plans has been met with scepticism by HK’s SCMP – (Morality campaign aims to create ‘dutiful children’ – South China Morning Post, November 1, 2011).

Morality drives are not unusual in China. Past morality drives include:

– Vice and perceived immorality drive in 2010 TV matchmaking show runs afoul of China’s morality campaign (China Daily, July 6, 2010)

– Eight Honours and Eight Shames 八荣八耻 in 2006, developed by Hu Jintao to inculcate a ‘socialist core value system’ to provide the moral and ideological foundations for social harmony. Its purpose? To clearly define the boundaries of right and wrong for the Chinese, especially party cadres.

— Love the country; do it no harm  — Serve the people; never betray them – – Follow science; discard superstition  — Be diligent; not indolent — Be united, help each other; make no gains at other’s expense  — Be honest and trustworthy; do not sacrifice ethics for profit — Be disciplined and law-abiding; not chaotic and lawless — Live plainly, work hard; do not wallow in luxuries and pleasures. (Image here)

– – –

Plan to teach a million kids filial piety
By He Dan
Source – China Daily, published November 1, 2011

A child helps her mother put on makeup during a thanksgiving event held in a kindergarten in Jiyuan city in Henan province on May 6. A plan to cultivate 1 million filial children in China during the next fi ve years has given rise to heated public debate. MIAO QIUNAO / FOR CHINA DAILY

BEIJING – A plan to cultivate 1 million filial children in the next five years has sparked a fierce debate over whether children can be taught to feel grateful to their parents.

The special committee of filial piety under the China National Association for Ethical Studies announced on Sunday that it aims to help 1 million children between the ages of 4 and 6 learn about filial piety, which is deeply rooted in China’s traditional culture.

“Our program will cultivate 1 million filial children and they will set a moral example for all the children in our country,” said Wang Haibin, head of the committee.

The 100-day training program will teach the children filial piety through stories and games. Volunteers will check on the children’s performance in three years to ensure that “filial piety can be a way of life”, said Sun Chunchen, secretary-general of the association for ethical studies.

“I signed up my 6-year-old son for the program because I believe it’s important for children to understand the hardships parents have to endure to raise them and for them to become persons with a sense of responsibility to their families,” said Yan Xiaohong, 34.

A mother of a 2-year-old girl from Shenzhen, Guangdong province, was less enthusiastic about teaching filial piety.

“I don’t want my child to be a robot and do whatever I ask her to do,” said Liu Jie, 27.

“It’s pointless to sign up for programs like this if they overemphasize parents’ authority, and they may prevent children from having independent thoughts,” she told China Daily on Monday.

Sun Yunxiao, deputy director of the China Youth Research Center, said filial piety entails respecting and caring for parents and other aged relatives, not obeying them.

“Children should learn to understand and respect their parents, but when parents require their children to do everything they want them to do, filial piety becomes a shackle,” he said.

Xiong Bingqi, deputy director of the 21st Century Education Research Institute, a private, nonprofit policy research body, worried that the program will consist of nothing but empty talk if it is merely based on textbooks.

“It’s useless to read classic moral teachings if children don’t have enough of a chance to practice them in daily life,” Xiong said.

Nowadays, a lot of parents in China only care about children’s academic performance and the only thing children need to do is to get high scores in exams, he said.

Xiong said parents should encourage their children to do housework to teach children about sharing family responsibilities.

Chen Jia contributed to this story.

China Daily

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Filed under: 52 Unacceptable Practices, Beijing Consensus, Charm Offensive, China Daily, Chinese Model, Culture, Domestic Growth, Education, Lifestyle, Mapping Feelings, People, Politics, Public Diplomacy, Reform, Social, The Chinese Identity, The construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese identities

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