less than 1 minute read

Education in China

Educational Ideals In Late Traditional China, Education, Society, And Examinations, Political Uses Of Education

Since antiquity Chinese placed an inordinately high value on education. During the classical era (600–250 B.C.E.), the Chinese advanced the notion that merit and ability measured by training should take precedence over race or birth in state appointments. Since the early empire (200 B.C.E.–200 C.E.), clans and families mobilized financial and cultural resources to provide boys (and sometimes girls) with the tools of classical literacy. However, a society based on merit remained only an ideal. Through the middle empire (600–900 C.E.) education remained the privilege of landed aristocrats and prosperous merchants.

The imperial state increased its expenditures on education during the Tang (618–906) and Song (960–1280) dynasties, when it created the first examination system for selecting officials. In addition, the rise of Buddhism in medieval China created charitable institutions for the common people, which included temple schools and monasteries, where many commoners—male and female—were educated. Building on such precedents, late imperial (1400–1900) statesmen and local leaders, except for the occasional Daoist eccentric, agreed that education, particularly a classical, moral education, was one of the foundations of public order and civilized life.

Additional topics

Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: Dysprosium to Electrophoresis - Electrophoretic Theory