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The Merits of the Confucian Educational Model

Updated: May 13

The Chinese Imperial Examination System was a comprehensive education and testing system used during the Tang and Ming dynasties in Chinese history. The system was designed to select and educate talented individuals for government service and tested candidates on their knowledge, skills, and character. The curriculum of the examination system covered a wide range of subjects, including Confucian Classics, Chinese literature, history and culture, mathematics and science, ethics, and more. The examination system placed a strong emphasis on critical thinking, ethical reasoning, and strong written and verbal communication skills. The successful completion of the examination system was considered a great accomplishment and a path to a successful career in government service.


The examination system remains a valuable resource for students and educators, as its curriculum provides a comprehensive education and emphasizes important skills and knowledge that are still relevant and useful in the modern world.





Curriculum for the Chinese Imperial Examination System

I. Confucian Classics


A. Analects of Confucius

B. The Great Learning

C. The Doctrine of the Mean

D. The Works of Mencius

II. Chinese Literature and Poetry


A. Classical Chinese Poetry

B. Historical and Contemporary Works

C. Analysis and Interpretation of Chinese Literature

III. Chinese History and Culture


A. History of the Chinese people focusing on the Han, Tang and Ming Dynasties

B. Political and Economic Systems

C. Social Structures and Customs

D. Philosophy and Religion

IV. Mathematics and Science


A. Arithmetic and Algebra

B. Geometry and Trigonometry

C. Astronomy and Calendrics

D. Medicine and Natural Sciences

V. Ethics and Moral Philosophy


A. Confucian Ethics

B. Daoist Philosophy

C. Legalism and Statecraft

D. Buddhist Philosophy


This educational curriculum, used during the Tang and Ming dynasties in Chinese history, was designed to test a candidate's knowledge, skills, and character. We can still learn much from this system and its curriculum, as it has much to offer modern students. Let's explore some of the merits of the Chinese Imperial Examination System curriculum and how it can benefit today's students.


First, the curriculum places a strong emphasis on the study of Confucian Classics and Chinese literature. These subjects provide students with a deep understanding of Chinese history, culture, and philosophy. The Confucian Classics help students develop critical thinking and ethical reasoning skills, both of which are essential for success in life. The study of Chinese literature exposes the students to the beauty of artistic expression.


Second, the curriculum includes a comprehensive study of mathematics and science. The examination system emphasized the importance of these subjects and tested candidates on their knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, trigonometry, astronomy, and medicine. Today, a strong foundation in math and science is crucial for success in many fields, and the examination system curriculum provides students with a solid foundation in these subjects.


Third, the curriculum also emphasizes ethics and moral philosophy. The study of Confucian ethics, Daoist philosophy, Legalism, and Buddhism provides students with a broad understanding of different philosophical perspectives and helps them develop their own ethical framework. This is especially important in today's globalized world, where cultural and ethical differences can impact our interactions with others.


To be sure, the Chinese Imperial Examination System curriculum is a valuable resource for modern students. It provides a comprehensive education that emphasizes the study of Confucian Classics, literature, mathematics, science, ethics, and more. Modernizing the classical curriculum with the inclusion of modern curriculum components makes the curriculum relevant and useful to today's students. Its emphasis on critical thinking, ethical reasoning, and communication skills makes it a valuable tool for students who want to succeed in the 21st century.



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