ditor's note: This article is the general preface written by Mr. Gan Yang to the Lecture Notes on General Educationabout Classicsseries. I would like to share this article with all students at Xinya College for mutual encouragement with the advent of new freshmen.
Mr. Gan Yang and students at Xinya College
The first Chinese Culture Forum was held in Fragrant Hill Hotel in Beijing in 2005 under the theme ofHumanisticEducation in Chinese Universities.Attendees had extensive discussions on thestatus quoof undergraduate education in China and the feasibility of carrying out general education.Many scholars and experts made an initial consensus at the forum that the development of general education should be vigorously promoted for undergraduate education in Chinese universities, and thepriority should be put on the construction of "core courses", especially those about "reading Chinese and foreign classics".On that basis, the Chinese Culture Forum entrusted me to hold the National General Education Core Course Workshop with Tsinghua University, Peking University, Fudan University, Shantou University, and others since the summer of 2007.
To be specific, the workshop invited senior teachers to teach classic texts three hours in the morning and three in the afternoon. Students were required to attend at least two group discussions at night, aside from the daytime classes. Now the non-profit workshop has been held for five consecutive years. Each time, we received 200 formal students from various colleges and universities across China; adding auditors, the number of attendees topped 400. In a word, the workshop plays a considerable role in popularizing general education concepts and practice.
This series of books is based on the lecture notes by some teachers in the workshop and includes other excellent ones concerning generation education,in a bid to encourage more people who love reading to share thefruits of general education development. I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude towards the teachers who are enthusiastic about the cause of general education, the university leaders and colleagues who provided teaching venues and administrative and logistical support for the past workshops, and the thousands of participants attending the workshops. The development of general education in Chinese universities depends on the understanding and support of university leaders, university teachers, and undergraduate and graduate students. Fortunately, weare welcoming more such supporters.
It should be noted that to peruse Chinese and foreign classics is just a part of general education. We have paid special attention to it because we hope to re-establish the atmosphere for serious reading.The first requirement for reading classics is to slow down! You should not read snackable content only. Society and universities are full of restless people eager for quick success, which, I believe,is the biggest enemy of education today. General education is rooted in the classical concept ofliberal education, so it advocates slowing down and calming down, which are beneficial to modern people.
Many long-established liberal arts colleges in Europe and the United States still provide compulsory courses on ancient Greek and Latin today. They don't intend to turn all students into classicists but hope that they will slow down and calm down by learning the classical languages of no practical use and thus become free people that can think freely.
I want to say to all college and university students: You will spend four years in college or university, so what's the hurry? What are you rushing for? Why in haste? Slow down, calm down, and read happily!