Analyses of Confucius’s Educational Thoughts and Its Values to Contemporary Education from the Perspectives of African Students in China


Confucius (551 - 479 BC) was the first great Chinese educator in the history of China. Confucius’s educational policy, teaching contents, teaching principles, and teaching methods played a significant role in enlightening contemporary teaching development today. His “teaching without social discrimination” policy laid the foundation for contemporary education fairness, while his teaching content of “writing and acting faithfully” emphasized Chinese contemporary moral education. Confucius’s heuristic teaching principle of “teaching students according to their aptitude” also reflects the contemporary personalization of education, meaning people have the right and freedom to pursue education in their area of interest with the trained teacher to help them accomplish their desired goals. These “heuristic educational theories” served modern educators in the better development and formulation of educational theories. Based on reading Confucian classics and referring to many domestic and foreign literature, this paper studies and expounds on the teaching value and significant enlightenment of Confucius’s educational thought to the development of contemporary education to combine theory with practice. In light of these, the paper mainly adopted a literature review and summary method. Furthermore, it gave a precise analysis of the connection between Confucius’s educational thought and contemporary educational reform and its significant influence on constructing and developing contemporary education policies and teachings.

Share and Cite:

Enyiazu, F.A. and Nwigwe, E.O. (2021) Analyses of Confucius’s Educational Thoughts and Its Values to Contemporary Education from the Perspectives of African Students in China. Open Access Library Journal, 8, 1-16. doi: 10.4236/oalib.1107916.

1. Introduction to Historical Background of Analyses

1.1. Research Background

Confucius (551 - 479 BC) was born in Zouyi (陬邑) State of Lu ((鲁国). His given name was Qiu (丘) and his courtesy name was Zhongni (仲尼). As the first to pioneer private teaching, he is known as the founding father of Chinese education and the famous Confucian Schools today. Confucius’s educational thought still has reference significance in contemporary education today. He put forward the idea of “teaching for all without social discrimination”, encouraging all people to receive education, regardless of their status in society. Confucius took “writing and acting faithfully” as his teaching content and advocated moral education to cultivate a noble and virtuous personality. Confucius also put forward the teaching principle of “teaching students according to their aptitude”, treating different students with different educational content and requirements. Confucius’s heuristic teaching is a typical reflection of the teaching method in our modern education of talents. It also plays an essential role in training students to independently study and think “rather than indoctrination teaching, let the students take the lead”. These ideas of Confucius’s educational thought are people-oriented and pay attention to step-by-step learning and perseverance, advocating asking questions from others, and attaching importance to the combination of knowledge and practice.

Contemporary educational reform contains significant initiatives from Confucius’s educational thought, some of which are “thoughts of quality education, lifelong education, harmonious education and innovative education”, not to mention but few. For Confucius teaching, the study of education thought is of great enlightenment to the reform and development of Education in contemporary China and great significance to China’s reconstruction of unified cultural spirit and worldwide recognition of Chinese historical education culture. As the first great educational theorist and practitioner in the history of China, Confucius has been studied, and lots of domestic and foreign scholars analyzed his philosophies. Some domestic scholars like (Ryu, 2010) [1] (Tan, 2016) [2] (Wang, 2004) [3] and (Wen, 2011) [4] focused on researching Confucius’s education philosophy thought. As a great ancient educator, Confucius’s philosophical thought became the foundation for the development of educational philosophy in China because of its integrity and pioneering. His philosophical thought is rich in connotation and has strong practicality. It not only enriches the theory of education, but also enriches the proper development of educational philosophy as a discipline. While some focused on the study of Confucius’s moral education thought, which created a precedent of traditional moral Education in ancient China. XIE Yuhan and GE Chen (2013) [5], in their “Confucius’s Thought of Moral Education”, stated that Moral Education should be divided into education for ordinary people, Education for gentlemen and moral Education for those who serve the government. Further it is stated that profoundness of the moral Education of Confucius lies in understanding human morality, social morality, and national morality; from theoretical and fundamental principles, political expectation, historical direction, and other aspects on the discussion of Confucius’s moral education thought. Moreover, others focused on Confucius’s educational thoughts and the development of contemporary Education with explanations of how Confucius’s educational theories and practices were born in the slave society, serving the politics of the slave society and cultivating talents for the slave society. However, history has proved that many of Confucius’s theories on Education and teaching still have reference significance. Yang Zhu, cited by (Stefon, 2011) [6], introduced the historical origin of Confucius’s educational thought believed that Confucius did not initially create Confucius’s educational thought, but the crystallization of the collective wisdom of ancient Chinese sages.

Foreign studies on Confucius’s educational thoughts are relatively early. American scholars David Hall and Roger Ames (1987) [7], thinks that Confucius attaches great importance to “learning”, and understanding of its importance also extends to his distinction between learning humanistic knowledge and acquiring practical skills. To Confucius, “learning” was not a way to earn a living Means; it is the way of life existence that helps one realize self-worth, concluded that Confucius opposed to becoming a pedant, but to “learn more and know”. Adding that value of knowledge should be measured by practical actions in the service of people. David’s dynamic process of Confucius’s thought is believed that “learning” and “thinking” are related to each other and have a specific inverse relationship, and that none of them is self-sufficient. If there is no “learning”, there will be no “thinking”. “Learning without thought is labour lost; thought without learning is perilous.” Foreign scholar Fingarette (1972) [8], also conducted a profound study on the core of Confucius’s moral education thought, “benevolence”. He believes that general scholars regard “benevolence” as a psychological, academic language, which is misunderstood because Confucius’s terminology was psychologized. He concluded that Confucius believes that by thinking of the state of the society, the national moral thought will rise to a high level.

In summary, while domestic research on Confucius’s educational thought has achieved specific results on the teaching of Confucius However, most focused on educational policy and teaching principles. The foreign scholars’ research on Confucius focused on Confucius’s moral education and philosophical education, which gave an interpretation and understanding of Confucius’s education thoughts under different cultural backgrounds. The focus and breakthrough of this paper are that it provides a detailed explanation of Confucius educational thought and its influence on contemporary education reform and policy formation, further discussing the adoption and values it contributed to the success of the Chinese educational system.

1.2. Research Question

This paper adopted one main research question:

Does Confucius’s educational thought have a significant influence on the development of contemporary education teachings and policies?

1.3. Research Methodology

Based on mainly reading Confucian classics and referring to a couple of domestic and foreign literature, this paper studies educational thought and expounds on the teaching value and enlightenment of Confucius’s educational thought to the development of contemporary education. In light of these, the paper mainly adopted a literature review and summary method. Thus, it analyzed Confucius’s educational thought and its teaching value and enlightenment to the development of contemporary education to combine theory with practice.

1.4. Research Ideology/Organization

Through the study of Confucius’s educational thought, this paper expounds on Confucius’s educational policy and teaching principle and the application of Confucius’s educational thought in the context of the contemporary environment, which is divided into five parts.

・ The first part is the introduction. This paper expounds based on the topic and the significance of the topic from domestic and foreign perspectives. Relevant researches were summarized to clarify the research ideas of this paper.

・ The second part, teach without discrimination: The Educational policy of Confucius. First, introduce what is “teaching without distinction”, second, explain the philosophical basis of “teaching without distinction”, and finally, study the teaching practice of “teaching without distinction”.

・ Part three: The teaching content of Confucius. Firstly, it expounds on the philosophical basis of the four words of teaching Wen, Xing, Zhong, Xin (文行忠信), which means “knowledge of literature, norms of conduct, loyal to duty and faithfulness”; and finally, studies the teaching practice of Wen, Xing, Zhong, Xin (文行忠信).

・ Part four of this paper introduces Confucius’s teaching principles “teaching in accordance with aptitude”, then elaborates the philosophical basis of teaching in accordance with an aptitude, and finally studies the teaching practice of teaching in accordance with aptitude.

・ Part five introduces what Confucius’s heuristic teaching is, it went further to expound the philosophical basis of heuristic teaching, and finally, studies the teaching practice of heuristic teaching.

・ The sixth part studies the contemporary value of Confucius’s educational thought, from teaching without discrimination and educational fairness. Then discusses the contemporary value of Confucius’s educational thought by combining four parts: faith and moral education, teaching according to aptitude and multi-level education system, heuristic teaching, and innovative talent training. Finally, concludes and summarizes the core content of the full text. Confucius’s educational policy, teaching principles, and teaching Methods still occupy a dominant position in the development of contemporary education, which is of great value to our contemporary education and plays a vital role in establishing a perfect education system.

2. Teach without Discrimination: The Educational Policy of Confucius

2.1. No Child Is Taught with Class; Contemporary “No Child Left Behind”

Confucius said: “Teach without discrimination.” (Bojun, 2006, p. 192) [9]. Confucius was the first educator in Chinese history to put forward the idea of teaching without discrimination. There are two explanations for this expression. First, education can be given to everyone. Second, there are classes, some wise and some stupid, but education can eliminate these differences. The master said everyone should be educated; there is no difference between the rich and poor, region, etc. Confucius worked as a minor official in the home of a doctor, under a strict hierarchy that only those of noble birth could receive Education until Confucius proposed the emergence of “No child is taught with class”, which broke the rigid hierarchy at that time and was a political advance Step that improved the quality of people. Confucius told people about his understanding and practice of teaching without discrimination, “I have no regrets to do the above by myself”, he said because it broke the education model under the hierarchical system of slave society and created a precedent for all people to receive an education.

2.2. Do Not Dispute the Importance of Inferiority between the Rich and the Poor, But the Way

How to treat education is not just by teaching without distinction, not for the weight of the rich and poor, but for the way. Confucius metaphysically called “learning the way”. Learning to everyone is equal. The teacher teaches his disciples whether the disciple is born noble or humble, poor or rich. Everyone should be educated as long as students have the desire to study. One should not be educated by birth. Birth is something one is born with and cannot be chosen. The heart of learning is formed by the day after tomorrow, not by body weight, nor rich or poor, but by the way.

2.3. Similar in Nature, Far in Practice

In the proposed “no class, we are all similar in nature” (The analects of Confucius, (2006), p. 76) [10], Confucius said education could change a person’s temperament, ability, and other aspects. Confucius always believed that the decisive factor in the change of a person personality lies in the different levels of education they have received. At the same time, he also believed that education could completely change the fate of some people. Confucius had three thousand disciples, 72 sages and ten great sages. It can be seen that Confucius had a significant influence on his disciples. The success of his teachings is primarily attributed to the “teaching without discrimination” education Policy, which can also be seen as “teaching without class” teaching practice. Confucius gave his door to many congenital opportunities for advantaged students to learn what distinguishes them from the rest.

3. Confucius’s Teaching Content of Writing and Faithfulness: Wen, Xing, Zhong, Xin (文行忠信)

When Confucius educated students, there are four aspects of the critical points he employed respectively: knowledge of literature, norms of conduct, loyal to duty, promise. In his opinion, it is essential to teach students cultural knowledge, but it is even more critical to reshaping their moral character. Learning cultural knowledge is just to lay a foundation for future conduct shaping. Only when students learn more can they understand more truths, and then they will follow these truths to restrain their words and deeds. It is a process from simple to profound (Juszczyk and Kim, 2017) [11]. Throughout the Master’s life, He had been a teacher to the king’s son. He had been a historian in the Imperial Temple. He had lectured around the countries Phase, which exposed him to a very high teacher’s life experience, and these experiences made him know what kind of teaching content will be employed to raise a real talent. Confucius often talked with his disciples about the Book of Songs. The book of Rites is one of the Five Classics of Confucianism, which Was the main course taught to his disciples by Confucius, who lived in what Confucius called a period of “broken rites and broken music.” during this period, the need to cultivate a group of “gentleman” personality sage to save the society at that time. Confucius said, “Rise in poetry, stand in a ceremony, and become in music” (The eighth chapter of learning, quoted by (Bojun, 2006, p. 93)) [12]. Confucius said, “Poems inspire me, rites inspire me, music enables me to complete what I have learned.” Confucius taught by poetry, calligraphy, rites and music. Confucius himself was also very proficient in music, so he took music as a final stage of his teaching work.

In the process of teaching his disciples, Confucius emphasized the need for a single book learning and advanced the practice of social life. Confucius encouraged his disciples to do more social practice, and at the same time, travels around the world during the period. Many children always followed Confucius because he travelled around the country to carry out social Practice, which encouraged him to learn more. When successful students went out to practice and do things, Confucius generally told them to “respect the deacon” (The analects of Confucius, 2006, p. 6) [13]. Zeng Shen, one of Confucius’s disciples, was diligent and studious. Others asked him why he made such rapid progress. Zeng Shen said, “I reflect on myself many times every day and try my utmost best”. Confucius often tells his disciples to be faithful to others. The Master said, “Where I live, Deacons are respectful and loyal to others” (The analects of Confucius, 2006, p. 83) [14]. Benevolence is the core of Confucianism, which Confucius defines as daily life to a dignified attitude. It is said that “to learn is to be close to the knowledge, practice is to be close to benevolence, and to know shame is close to courage”. Knowing these three things is to cultivate one’s morality (The doctrine of the mean quoted by (Wenjin, 2012, p. 32)) [15]. In the traditional Confucian, morality, wisdom, benevolence and courage are four significant categories. Confucius also said, “Virtue is not solitary; there must be neighbors” (The analects of Confucius, 2006, p. 45) [16]. “A virtuous man will not be alone but rather find like-minded people to make friends with him.” Confucius said in the Book of Changes, “Birds of a feather flock together.” First of all, become a moral person, so that there will be many people like you around. When Confucius talked about being true to one’s word and resolute in actions (The Analects of Confucius, 2006, p. 12) [17] Confucius said, “Words must be faithful and deeds must be firm just like a scholar.” His disciple Zi Gong once asked, “Who can be called a scholar?” Confucius replied, “A person who Keeps a sense of shame in their conduct.” When one goes on a diplomatic mission to a foreign country and do an excellent job fulfilling their sovereign’s mission, that person can be called a scholar.

Confucius took “literature文, conduct行, loyalty忠 and faithfulness信” as the primary teaching content, and combined with the progressive education method, achieved outstanding results. He successfully cultivated a large number of excellent disciples like Yan Hui (Ziyuan子渊), Min Sun (Ziqian子骞), Ran Geng (Boniu伯牛), Ran Yong (Zhonggong仲弓), Ran Qiu (Ziyou子有), Zhong You (Zilu子路), Zai Yu (Ziwo子我) and Duanmu Ci (Zigong子贡), and brought up many talents for society (Fernandez, 2004) [18]. After the death of Confucius, these talented people either wrote books or spoke or engaged in political affairs, exerting a far-reaching influence on later generations. With their achievements, they highlight the success and greatness of Confucius.

4. Confucius’s Teaching Principles of Teaching Students According to Their Aptitude

Zhu Xi, a great scholar in the Song Dynasty, highly praised Confucius’s teaching in accordance with his aptitude. Zhu Xi once commented on Confucius, stating: “The sage taught, according to their material, small to minor success, significant to considerable success, never abandon people.” (Wan, 1980) [19] Confucius is a model of teaching students according to their aptitude. In the analects of Confucius (2006, p. 105) [20], Confucius’s disciples were divided into moral virtue, speech, politics, and literature According to their academic specialties, including philosophy, politics, history, literature and art. Confucius also attaches great importance to the education of moral practice. With its systematic teaching content, supplemented by the teaching principle of teaching students according to their aptitude, Confucius cultivated a group of outstanding disciples represented by the “Ten Sages of Confucius”. Confucius’s students were divided into four categories according to their specialties, similar to the divisions in our universities today.

Regarding the nature of their content, the four subjects should be equivalent to ethics, language, politics, literature and other subjects in today’s universities. Of course, the “Four Subjects of Confucius” mainly emphasizes the outstanding performance of Confucius’s students in these four aspects, which is not to say that the teaching content is limited to these. Meanwhile, the “Four Subjects of Confucius” is also a practice of Confucius’s theory of teaching students in accordance with their aptitude. Every person in this world is an individual existence, every person’s outlook on life and world outlook Influenced by their growth environment and education, there are differences among people. This difference is found in communication and contact. There are three thousand teachers and disciples and seventy-two wise men. Confucius also grasped each disciple’s character, doing things and learning Ability and carry-on different aspects of cultivation, each person’s three views of different people created the difference. It is based on the people’s differences that “teaching students in accordance with their aptitude” is put forward, which makes this educational principle in the history of Chinese education shine (Yao, 1996) [21].

In contemporary education today:

4.1. Teachers Should Pay Attention to Observe and Analyze the Characteristics of Students’ Learning

Students’ performance when problems occur is especially worth analyzing, from which it is possible to discover their unique cognitive characteristics and motivational tendencies. Teachers should ask questions like: “Why is it confusing, and where is the card?” “Why do they always make the same kind of mistakes?” “Why are there anomalies?” The apparent success of students’ learning is also worth paying attention to and analyzing, from which we can find what kind of problems students are good at solving and the motivation of learning, analyze the situation in which students are particularly successful, and what characteristics they have in thinking and understanding. Understand the characteristics of students through observation and analysis.

4.2. To Treat Students with Poor Academic Performance, We Should Make Specific Analyses and Treat Them Differently

Some students have a low level of thinking, others have limitations in learning style, and some have learning motivation obstacles, resulting in poor academic performance. In the actual situation, motivation factors, ability and style factors are mixed and interact with each other, so it is necessary to start from the motivation to maintain the guidance of learning methods. Taking different measures to make students study with self-esteem and self-confidence is particularly important for low ability levels. If the self-esteem of the less able students is not corrected, it is no less than adding insult to injury and draining the source of motivation for their development.

4.3. Teachers Should Provide Appropriate Teaching Methods According to Their Understanding of Students’ Learning Styles

Studies have shown that when teachers’ teaching style matches students’ learning style, it improves their academic performance. Since no cognitive style can be applied to all knowledge learning, if learners stick to a specific cognitive style in learning, they are bound to fail in some subjects that are not suitable for their style. Researchers believe that individual learning styles are habits and that experience and training play a significant role (Brookfield, S., & Preskill, S., 1999) [22].

4.4. Teachers Should Not Only Analyze and Grasp Students’ Learning Styles Themselves But Also Guide Students to Understand the Characteristics of Their Learning Styles and Encourage Students to Convert Learning Styles into Learning Strategies

According to a study done by Brookfield & Preskill (2012) [23], when students learn the material requirements of specific subjects and their cognitive style, matching their actual results of learning is not so good as they expected, and at the request of the learning materials and their cognitive style do not match, but they learn better than expected. Their explanation for the results is that the students’ expectations were correspondingly high because they knew how their learning style matched the material structure. This result also shows that when learners know the matching relationship between learning style characteristics and learning task requirements, they will be able to make active efforts. To be a strategic learner, one must at least be aware of his learning ability type, know the requirements of different methods to complete the learning task, and adopt different learning methods. Learning strategies are different from learning styles. Learning style is a relatively stable learning style owned by individuals and is often unconsciously preferred while learning strategies are flexible, planned and adaptable according to the nature of specific learning tasks. Under the teacher’s conscious cultivation, students can fully understand themselves and actively foster their strengths and circumvent their weaknesses. When students are aware of learning strategies and realize their habitual learning style and its advantages and disadvantages, they will take the initiative to adjust. It should be noted that individualized teaching does not (and cannot) reduce student diversity. In fact, under the influence of an effective individualized teaching strategy, the development difference of students’ learning level may be more significant because whether they can benefit more fully from the educational conditions is itself a manifestation of potential. Under more suitable learning conditions, those with lower potential can develop their potential, while those with higher potential can develop faster. Teachers should design different development blueprints for students of different levels to cultivate them consciously (Chen, P. Tolmie, A.K. and Wang, T., 2017) [24].

5. Confucius’s Teaching Method of Heuristic Teaching

When students think positively about a particular problem and are eager to solve it but have not yet figured it out, at this time, the teacher should guide the students in time to help them open their thoughts. Teachers should help students clarify their thinking and the essential properties of things and then express them in more accurate language. Confucius has always been strict with his students, asking them to think positively first. The Master said, “If you take one corner and do not reverse it in three corners, you will never get to do so.” (The analects of Confucius, 2006, p. 77) [25]. The teacher thinks that the three corners should be used to counter students having independent thinking and pondering ability. In teaching his students, Confucius did not try to draw lessons from other examples for his students. He inspired students to draw inferences from other examples and to learn by analogy. In the Analects of Confucius, it is recorded that Confucius said to Zi Gong, “Who is stronger, you or Yan Hui?” Zi Gong replied, “How dare I compare myself with Yan Hui?” As for him, from hearing one thing, he can infer ten Things; whilst, Zi Gong can only infer two things from one thing I hear (The analects of Confucius, 2006, p. 69) [26]. It is the result of Confucius’s “heuristic teaching”. Heuristic teaching is the student’s teaching according to the knowledge level of purpose, content, and rule, applying all sorts of teaching means to induce the imparting of knowledge, cultivate the ability, make the student learns actively, and promote the development of body and mind. Here we should emphasize that heuristic teaching is a teaching method, idea, principle, and view. The teaching reform of all countries in the world revolves around heuristic or is related to the heuristic. The human subjective initiative, also known as conscious initiative, is a uniquely human ability and activity, which includes three mutual aspects of contact:

・ The ability and activities of human beings to understand the world.

・ The capacity and activities of man to transform the world.

・ The state of mind in which man is engaged in the activity of understanding and remaking the world. From the perspective of understanding the world: the essence and law of things are hidden in the phenomenon; people have to give full play to People’s subjective initiative; the ability of abstract thinking can reveal the essence and rules of things through the surface of phenomena. (Dewey, 1916) [27]

The subjective initiative is unique to human beings, and it is the characteristic that distinguishes human beings from animals. Learning and thinking is the starting point of Confucius’s heuristic teaching, which aims to make students learn from other examples and acquire more knowledge and ability (Bi, L., Ehrich, J. and Ehrich, L., 2011) [28]. The critical problem in modern teaching is to form the correct guiding ideology of teaching. Only when the guiding ideology is correct can we flexibly use teaching methods and make innovations. “Students as the main body, teachers as the leading” is the guiding ideology of modern teaching. How to embody “students as the main body, teachers as the leading”? The key is whether students can have learning enthusiasm to a large extent that the leading role of the teacher has a direct relationship to improve students’ ability comprehensively. For the teacher’s requirements, the so-called heuristic teaching is to guide transformation into students’ specific knowledge and then further students’ specific knowledge into ability. The leading role of teachers is reflected in these two transformations. (Known knowledge → students’ specific knowledgeability), guidance is the key to transformation. Teaching is to make students love and learn through teachers’ work. The key to heuristic teaching is to arouse the enthusiasm of students. Enthusiasm for learning is a strong desire to learn (it manifests as interest, belief, desire and anxiety). Moreover, the desire to learn is the need to learn. Learning need is a psychological state in which students feel deficient in specific knowledge and strive to improve and satisfy (Kwok, T., Tang, C., Woo, J., Lai, W. K., Law, L. K., & Pang, C. P., 1998) [29].

5.1. The Target Heuristic Teaching

The teaching objective is the prediction of teaching results and the purpose of students’ learning. Many facts have proved that if students have no curiosity and an intense thirst for knowledge, even if they master specific innovative methods and technologies, it is difficult for them to have practical and valuable innovative behaviors. Therefore, the positioning of teaching objectives should reflect the teaching principle of taking students as the main body, focusing on stimulating students’ initiative to participate in learning, so that students can constantly improve their abilities in various aspects, especially their innovation ability, in the process of learning knowledge and skills. Teachers should pay attention to the guiding function of teaching objectives, which should have not only cognitive objectives have cognitive objectives and training objectives of innovative spirit, creative thinking, and creative ability.

5.2. Model of Heuristic Teaching

The most significant product of the 21st century is not technology but the new kind of schooling. As Comrade (Siping, 2000) [30] pointed out many years ago, “Education should be geared to modernization, the world and the future.” As a teacher who cultivates cross-century talents, in the era of “knowledge explosion”, it is challenging to cultivate creative talents with the full development of intelligence in the era of “knowledge explosion” if we use outdated educational ideas, concepts, and educational means to teach. Therefore, in the teaching process of continuous learning of modern educational ideas, educational means and educational methods, teaching workers have urgent practical significance. When it comes to the question of “give them the fish” or “teach them to fish” in guiding their learning, every visionary teacher will choose the last answer. In the teaching process, teachers should gradually guide students to master the ways and methods of solving problems. Let students directly participate in exploration teaching, give full play to students’ subjective initiative, develop students’ innovation ability, and make students have a sense of achievement in learning, which is conducive to cultivating them to establish a scientific attitude and master scientific methods. Educational theorists have clearly stated that “the most effective way to learn is to let students learn through experience and creation”. Good use of heuristic teaching methods can cultivate students’ ability to analyze and solve problems. Through problem-solving, students’ enthusiasm for independent learning can be stimulated, and their interest in learning can be improved. Moreover, students’ enthusiasm for creation and innovation ability can be stimulated by exploring problem-solving methods.

6. Summary: The Contemporary Value of Confucius’s Educational Thought

6.1. Teach without Discrimination to Promote the Development of Compulsory Education Which Is Also Known as “No Child Left Behind” Education Policy

Confucius’s purpose to the pioneered private lectures is to make education accessible to everyone and make education universal. At the present stage, it is imperative to address the difficulty of attending school at the different educational level and ensure that every child has equal access to compulsory education. For many Chinese urban families, getting a quality education for their children is a top priority. Thus, in order for the Chinese government to solve the problem of unreasonable allocation of compulsory education resources, the draft revision of compulsory education Law was made in many aspects:

-In terms of funding input, the draft requires education departments of county-level to prepare their budgets

It will give priority to rural schools and weak urban schools. The State Council and local governments at or above the county level shall set up a special fund to support the Compulsory education policy implemented in economically underdeveloped areas such as rural areas.

-In terms of teaching staff, the draft calls for county-level government education authorities to take measures to promote schools

Balanced allocation of teachers; Backbone teachers in public schools should be organized for itinerant teaching, and professional teachers in short supply should be itinerant teaching.

In public schools, principals and teachers move between schools.

-In terms of management and supervision, the draft requires government departments at all levels to promote balanced development of schools

The competent education departments of the governments at or above the county level shall take measures to narrow the gap between school development in the different demographic areas.

-The promotion of higher education

Confucius’s idea of “teaching without discrimination” not only spread culture among the people but also helped people in the cultivation of talent (Mei-Ching, 2009) [31]. Many talented people do not have a chance to receive education for many background reasons. However, if a nation wants to be strong, it must attach importance and provide accessible means to education to cultivate talents for the development of the nation. The idea of “teach all without discrimination” enables more students to receive higher education and eliminates the barrier between families. Educational equity is a primary problem to be solved in higher education across the world. A fair education mechanism is conducive to the selection of the best talents, and it is also the construction of a “harmonious society”. The central component linked to establishing a fair higher education system is more important than ever; higher education should be a right for all, regardless of location or family background. Construction of higher education institutions should be all over the country, especially in remote areas, so that the whole country people can receive good higher education, with improved employment of college graduates. Confucius’s idea of “teaching without class” is genuinely seen in contemporary education today as all the above mention quality standards for promotion of fair Higher education is seen in the educational administration of china and that of other countries of the world at large (Zhu, 2008) [32].

6.2. Honesty in Writing and Moral Education to Strengthen Moral Education in Schools

“Faithfulness in writing and conduct” was Confucius’s four teaching subjects, on which Confucius also placed his ideals. The focus of moral education is to teach people to be polite, trustworthy, loyal and not to violate their original. Moral education in schools helps the student to conduct civilized behavior. The content of civilized behavior is comprehensive, covering every aspect of people’s lives (Kim, 2003) [33]. More social practice about moral education is carried out in schools, and students’ civilization is cultivated in practice of Behavioral habits, enhancement of students’ moral cultivation, and the establishment of correct life values to be portrayed in the society. Modern civic morality and patriotism education provides a good learning direction to cultivate civic Political quality education. The cultivation of legal consciousness is also an important content of civic moral education to establish a sense of democracy and a legal system that promotes comprehensive knowledge of the law, politics, and quality education.

6.3. Enlightenment of Teaching Students in Accordance with Their Aptitude to the Construction of Multi-Level Education and Heuristic Teaching on Innovative Talent Cultivation

Confucius was the first educator to put forward the idea of “teaching students according to their aptitude” and applied it to his teaching practice by formulated unique teaching contents according to the characters and characteristics of different disciples, so that they play their advantages, become a contribution and talent to the society. Confucius stressed, “Do not give up any student; on the contrary, explore the advantages of those students who are not outstanding talent”. In our contemporary education, students who did not get into the university because of their unsatisfactory academic performance should be provided with a sound vocational education system to receive better practical education. Vocational education aims to provide a better learning platform for students with professional and technical abilities. In other words, vigorously construction of vocational education should be prioritized so that more students receive more suitable education for the contribution of personal and societal development.

More so, teaching students in accordance with their aptitude enriches the diversity of characteristic education. In the teaching process, Confucius was good at discovering the strengths of each disciple and offered detailed guidance and training in the areas of his strengths. Being good at exploiting each student’s strengths is the original intention of “teaching students according to their aptitude”, and education should not be a single teaching category. Education should enrich the diversity of education, the characteristics of education as the focus of the development of a country. Students with other talents receive the education that suits them. In many parts of the world, characteristic education is developing towards a diversified trend. In China, for instance, there are lots of established special schools such as Lu Xunmei Art College, Beijing Film Academy, Jilin Academy of Arts, Central Academy of Arts and a series of training fine arts, good music and other specialities colleges and universities. Unlike traditional teaching methods, Confucius’s heuristic teaching method stimulates students’ inner learning motivation, arouses students’ learning initiative, inspires students to think independently, and develops students’ logical thinking ability. The cultivation mode of innovative talents is a systematic project of the overall reform of school education and teaching. The guiding ideology is to adhere to “people-oriented”, and the goal is to promote the comprehensive development of students, improve the quality of education. From a systematic perspective (Kim K., 2004) [34], the innovative talent training model covers classroom teaching, moral education, campus activities, family education and social practice and other fields to build a system of independent learning, independent development, independent education, independent management as the core of human existence.

7. Conclusion

This analysis shows that Confucius’s educational thought significantly influences the construction and development of contemporary education policies and teachings. It is evident why Confucian philosophy has been precious in education, philosophy and leadership worldwide. Even though Confucianism might have evolved as centuries passed, specific core ideology has remained unaltered. The Chinese Government adopted lots of its great ideologies used in most educational reforms and leadership policies from this philosopher hence the successful influence on contemporary education development in China.

8. Limitation of the Study

This analysis on Confucius’s educational thought was reviewed only from the perspective of its values and influence on contemporary education, which makes the limitation of the paper as it focused only on the educational sector. Kajawo (2019) [35] carried out research on Lessons from Confucius Ideas from the perspectives influences on the leadership of China, but only very few participants and based on personal experience. Further research may see if Confucius’s thoughts and moral values impact the governance of contemporary leadership of China as the host country of Confucianism with a more significant participant, so that result is generalized.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


[1] Ryu, K. (2010) The Teachings of Confucius: Reviving a Humanistic Adult Education Perspective. International Journal of Continuing Education and Lifelong Learning, 2, 11-28.
[2] Tan, L. (2016) Confucius: Philosopher of Twenty-First-Century Skills. Educational Philosophy and Theory, 48, 1233-1243.
[3] Wang, F. (2004) Confucian Thinking in Traditional Moral Education: Key Ideas and Fundamental Features. Journal of Moral Education, 33, 429-447.
[4] Wen, H. (2011) Continuity of Heart-Main and Things-Events: A Systematic Reconstruction of Neo-Confucian Epistemology. Asian Philosophy, 21, 269-290.
[5] Xie, Y. and Ge, C. (2013) Confucius’ Thoughts on Moral Education in China. Cross-Cultural Communication, 9, 45-49.
[6] Stefon, M. (2011) Biography of Yang-Zhu. Encyclopedia Britannica.
[7] Hall, D.L. and Ames, R.T. (1987) Thinking through Confucius (SUNY Series in Systematic Philosophy). State University of New York Press, Albany.
[8] Fingarette, H. (1972) Confucius—The Secular as Sacred. Harper & Row, New York.
[9] Yang, B. (2006) The Eighth Chapter of Learning. Zhonghua Book Company, Beijing, 192.
[10] The Analects of Confucius (2006). China Book Company, Beijing, 76.
[11] Juszczyk, S. and Kim, Y.D. (2017) Confucian Thought Affecting Education in South-East Asian Countries vs. Socratic Education Philosophy in Western Countries. Athenaeum Polskie Studia Politologiczne, 56, 97-110.
[12] The Analects of Confucius (2006) China Book Company, Beijing, 93.
[13] The Analects of Confucius (2006) China Book Company, Beijing, 6.
[14] The Analects of Confucius (2006) China Book Company, Beijing, 83.
[15] Wang, W. (2012) The Second Chapter of the Doctrine of the Mean. Zhonghua University Book Company, Beijing, 32.
[16] The Analects of Confucius (2006) China Book Company, Beijing, 45.
[17] The Analects of Confucius (2006) China Book Company, Beijing, 12.
[18] Fernandez, J. (2004) The Gentleman’s Code of Confucius: Leadership by Values. Organizational Dynamics, 33, 21-31.
[19] Wan, H. (1980) The Educational Thought of Confucius. PhD Dissertations, Loyola University Chicago, Chicago.
[20] The Analects of Confucius (2006). China Book Company, Beijing, 105.
[21] Yao, X. (1996) Self-Contradiction and Identity: The Confucian Self in Relation to Some Western Perceptions. Asian Philosophy, 6, 179-195.
[22] Brookfield, S. and Preskill, S. (1999) Discussion as a Way of Teaching: Tools and Techniques for University Teachers. McGraw-Hill Education, UK.
[23] Brookfield, S.D. and Preskill, S. (2012) Discussion as a Way of Teaching: Tools and Techniques for Democratic Classrooms. John Wiley & Sons, Hoboken.
[24] Chen, P., Tolmie, A.K. and Wang, T. (2017) Growing the Critical Thinking of School Children in Taiwan Using the Analects of Confucius. International Journal of Educational Research, 84, 43-54.
[25] The Analects of Confucius (2006). China Book Company, Beijing, 77.
[26] The Analects of Confucius (2006). China Book Company, Beijing, 69.
[27] Dewey, J. (1916) Democracy and Education: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Education. Macmillan, New York.
[28] Bi, L., Ehrich, J. and Ehrich, L. (2011) Confucius as Transformational Leader. International Journal of Educational Management, 26, 391-402.
[29] Kwok, T., Tang, C., Woo, J., Lai, W.K., Law, L.K. and Pang, C.P. (1998) Randomized Trial of the Effect of Supplementation on the Cognitive Function of Older People with Subnormal Cobalamin Levels. International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 13, 611-616.;2-O
[30] Siping, D. (2000) Empirical Confucian Moral thought and Its Historical Evolution. Bashu Publishing House, Chengdu.
[31] Ng, M.-C.R. (2009) College and Character: What Did Confucius Teach Us about the Importance of Integrating Ethics, Character, Learning, and Education? Journal of College and Character, 10, 1-7.
[32] Zhu, Y. (2008) Confucius Educational Thought and Contemporary Education Development. Southwest Jiaotong University Press, Chengdu.
[33] Kim, H. (2003) Critical Thinking, Learning, and Confucius: A Positive Assessment. Journal of Philosophy of Education, 37, 71-87.
[34] Kim, K. (2004) An Attempt to Elucidate Notions of Lifelong Learning: Analects-Based Analysis of Confucius’ Ideas about Learning. Asia Pacific Education Review, 5, 117-126.
[35] Kajawo, S. (2019) Lessons from Confucius Ideas: Chinese Universities’ African Students Reflections. Open Access Library Journal, 6, Article No. e5693.

Copyright © 2023 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

Creative Commons License

This work and the related PDF file are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.