Should the Four Books Be Set in the UniversityCurricula?
Under the influence of Western cultures, traditionalclassic books were expelled from school curricula inthe New Culture Movement in the early 20th century.Since then, students in primary schools and highschools have been liberated from the claimed trash offeudalism. During the Cultural Revolution,traditional classic books were everely renounced again. As a result, students are taught toassociate traditional classic books with backwardness of feudalism.
With this background knowledge, we can easily understand why the adoption of the FourBooks in some universities results in ongoing public controversy in an opener society incomparison with the past. Ironically,advocating the Four Books being taught in college or not,almost everyone is familiar with certain frequently cited sentences from traditional classicbooks. As for me, Adopting the Four Books in university curricula is feasible.
Firstly, it is unfair to associate the Four Books with the backwardness of feudal society andhence refuseto read them. Admittedly, those classic books were written in ancient times andinevitably could not transcend over temporal limitations. Some ideas conveyed in the FourBooks even contradict contemporary thoughts. However, those classic books are records ofancient minds, without which we can not achieve today’s civilization. Some may argue that asancient minds are outdated, it is useless to know that again. The truthis that ancient minds arealso part of the ongoing process of our cultural development. If we are able to acquire a basicknowledge of traditional culture, we are likely to have a better chance to understandcontemporary culture.
Secondly, as college students should have the ability of critical thinking, they can figure outwhat is applicable and what is trash from the Four Books. Generally speaking, someeducationalists worry college students will absorb outdated values and thoughts from thosetraditional classic books so they deny setting the Four Books in college curricula. While weadmit that those books were written in ancient times and hence they are representative ideasof the ruling class (for ordinary people were denied opportunities to learn reading and writing),it is impossible to apply those ideas in our current society.
More important, college students are supposed to have the critical thinking ability and can tellthe rightfrom the wrong. Once they realize why some ideas are feudalist trash by reading andcritical thinking, it is more likely to eliminate the remaining feudalist trash in the mind than byteachers’ exhortations.
In sum, as college students, they are able to think critically so that they can tell the essence oftraditional Chinese culture from the feudalist trashes. Besides, adopting the Four Bookscourse helps preserve traditional culture. Therefore, adopting the Four Books in collegecurricula is both practical and beneficial.