Several civic groups yesterday urged the Ministry of Education to drop its plan to make the “Four Books” a required course for high school, saying it would only place an extra burden on students who are already overwhelmed by their academic load.
The “Four Books” refer to the Doctrine of the Mean (中庸), Great Learning (大學), Analects of Confucius (論語) and Mencius (孟子), chosen by Zhu Xi (朱熹) in the Sung Dynasty as an introduction to Confucian theories and ideas.
Last month the ministry announced that it intended to make the “Four Books” a mandatory course for high school to combat widespread bullying, drug use and gang problems among youth.
Currently, courses on the Analects of Confucius and Mencius are elective subjects in high school.
The mandatory course would begin in the next school year, at the earliest.
National Alliance of Parents Organizations president Gordon Hsieh (謝國清) said the alliance was “not against learning or teaching the Confucian classics at school, but we are questioning whether learning the ‘Four Books’ would really help our young students develop better character.”
He said that by making the four classics a compulsory course, students would have to spend more time memorizing the texts, which would result in more exams and increased academic pressure.
Character building should have more to do with letting students take part in courses that deal with real life issues, the alliance said.
National Teachers’ Association vice chairman Alex Huang (黃文龍) told reporters that his association had received a petition signed by at least 600 high school teachers asking the ministry to drop its plan to make the “Four Books” a required course.
High school teachers are very worried about the upcoming change because many do not even have enough time to teach their current academic load, Huang said.
“The required Confucian courses would simply take away more time from other subjects,” Huang said. “Besides, we’ve never asked the students whether they really want to study the ‘Four Books’ or not.”