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The Wisconsin alumni magazine
Volume 1, Number 3 (Dec. 1899)

Seymour, W. F.
Education in China,   pp. 105-107


Page 106


Wisconsin Alumni Magazine.
thin paper. In this room are a few dirty and decrepit tables
and some narrow stools or benches on which the pupils sit and
study their lessons aloud, reading at the top of their voices.
In our schools, as a rule, the nearer the teacher is the more
quietly the pupil studies; but there it is just the opposite. If
he steps out for a minute the hum of voices may die down, but
when he returns it immediately rises again, and if a visitor
comes it is certain to be loud until he enters the room, when
every pupil stands until the visitor is seated. The course of
study is very limited, consisting chiefly of the "four books and
five classics." These are committed to memory, the student re-
citing with his back toward the teacher, and at a rate of speed
which makes it quite impossible for one of the uninitiated to
know what he is talking about. These books contain many
really excellent maxims for the regulation of families, com-
munities and the nation. Unfortunately, the directions in them
are not carried out in actual practice, and they teach nothing
about the present life of the world or the problems which are
confronting western nations, or which confront China at this
critical period in her existence. Much time is spent in learn-
ing how to write the literary essays required in the government
examinations, which are not essays at all in our sense of the
word. When the Emperor decreed that these essays should
be done away with in the examinations and the western style
of essay be substituted, it is no wonder that there was great
unrest among the educated classes, for neither students nor
teachers knew how to write what was required. It was a greater
change than it would be for our University authorities to de-
cree that all examination papers should be written in verse of
a certain meter, the writing of which had never been taught
either in the University itself or in any of the high schools of
the state, but only in some of the Lutheran or Roman Catholic
parochial schools.
   Besides these private schools, there are a few government
 schools in some of the more important political or educational
 centers, such as Peking, Nanking, Tientsin, and Shanghai. In
 these schools, largely under the supervision of foreigners, the
[December
106


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