Eastern Educational Thought

In the lecture by Arthur Ellis in which he discusses some history of Eastern educational thought, a key idea strung throughout the essay centers around morality and the search for morality. While discussing Confucius, Ellis his book The Great Learning. In this book Confucius describes the goal structure of education being first the development of clear character, next the love of others, and lastly the constant pursuit of the highest good. These are ideas usually attached to religion, but Confucius presents them as educational goals unrelated to any one specific religion. Confucius describes the ultimate educator as a superior person and to claim that superiority you must become moral. At this point the superior one begins to teach as, according to Confucius, morality seeks to create more morality. Those who have been educated and have reached that point of morality reach out to the lesser and guide them on their educational journey.

Ghandi is a notoriously moral figure. In his lecture Ellis discusses many times Ghandi’s adherence to a non-violent way of life. He believed in education and development of a “spiritual person”, that education was not merely for career purposes. Ghandi encouraged school children to learn a craft in school and contribute to the school by selling their craft in the village. He wanted students to be active participants in their societies. The three H’s were three things that Ghandi believed greatly in. He believed in Heart, or bestowing a moral education on our children, Head, or the true development of the mind, and Hands, or learning as an active process.

In both of these early Eastern educational figures we see one thing weaved throughout their ideas, morality. Confucius believed that morality was the goal of education and Ghandi believed that to have a well rounded education one must recieve a strong moral education.

I am intrigued by how these educational ideas have lead to the education we have in our society today. I just took a moral issues in education class and the topic of morality in schools is a controversial one. How different was Western educational ideas that we are made so nervous by moral education and its boundaries, something that was the very center of educational ideas in the East?