Establishing Schools in Yuan-zhou City (1054 A.D.)

Li, Gou

In 1045, the Emperor of China ordered all the mayors to establish schools in local cities. However, at that time some mayors were wise, and some were not. Some mayors did their best to execute the emperor's virtuous order, but others only had teachers on paper and did not actually build schools. Thus, in some cities one could not hear the music of reciting poetry. Even though the emperor promoted education with great effort, some mayors only responded superficially. Therefore, there were many obstacles in carrying out educational policy and the goal of popularizing education did not seem feasible.

In 1054, Wu-ze Zu from Fan-yang City became the mayor of Yuan-zhou City. When he first arrived at the city, he immediately summoned local scholars and discussed the schools with them. After learning of the corruption in local schools, he worried about the waste of people's talents and the impediment to the effort of teachers, both of which violated the emperor's edict of promoting education. City Counselor Shen Chen from Ying-chuan City heard his opinion and agreed with him entirely. Later, based on Mayor Zu's opinion, City Counselor Chen made some suggestions for improving education.

They thought that the old Confucian temple was too narrow and small to be worthy of remodeling. Therefore, they built a new school northeast of the temple. The soil was dry and hard. They designed the building to face south. They used very good building materials: The ceramic shingles and bricks were standard. The walls were plastered. The doors and windows were painted red. The auditorium, classrooms, and hallways were designed properly. People worked together to make sure that teaching supplies and equipment were complete. All the workers were excellent and the official in charge was diligent. They worked hard day and night. After a year, the school building was finished. They prepared fruits and vegetables to honor the great teacher, Confucius, and set a date for the school opening ceremony.

During the ceremony, I told the audience, "The schools in Dynasties Yu, Xia, Shang and Zhou can be understood by studying documents and books. Later the King of the State of Qin united China by using the army in Shaanxi Province to defeat the armies of six countries. He wanted his offspring to be emperors for many generations. However, after Bang Liu cried out, Han-gu Pass of the Great Wall fell to the rebels. Soldiers and generals competed to betray the emperor by surrendering as quickly as they could. How could this have happened? This is because no one cared about ethics and no one would study themes of books anymore. People only pursued short-term profit rather than virtue. During Emperor Wu-di's reign, China was prosperous and peaceful. Emperor Guang-wu-di of the Eastern Han dynasty built his career, starting as a soldier. Both emperors worked hard toward academic development. Their virtuous influence on customs and culture lasted until the end of the Han dynasty. People who were not officials dared to give direct advice even though it could have cost their lives. Generals who made great contributions to China were glad to give up their military power when the emperor ordered them to. Although talented people did not always agree with each other's opinions, they still remained responsible to their duties. This promising situation lasted almost 100 years. It showed that the teachings of these two emperors influenced people's minds greatly. Now our country is led by a great emperor and our city is governed by a great mayor. Thus people can go to school to learn the legacy of previous generations. During peacetime, we use the Six Classics to teach people to be good citizens. If our country is in trouble, we should devote ourselves to our country. If our family encounters difficulty, we should devote ourselves to our family. In other words, the goal of education is to help people develop their potential to live up to their ideals. If students only use their knowledge to pursue wealth and power, then it not only brings shame to the students, but also may cause disaster for our country."