On November 9, the 26th Education Work Symposium of Tsinghua University was successfully concluded. The symposium lasted for 7 months, and revolved around the theme of "improving the education evaluation system, optimizing the training organization model, and improving the ability to cultivate high-level talents". Various seminars and exchanges were conducted, the university's education and teaching experience of building morality and cultivating people summarized and passed on, and innovative measures for cultivating high-level talents explored. At the closing ceremony of the symposium, Mr. Mei Ciqi, on behalf of Xinya College, made a presentation titled "Growing 'On the Scene, Elsewhere, Collectively, and Locally'" to illustrate the college's unique experience and move in exploring hard-working spirit education for the past years.
Colleagues and students:
Greetings to you all.
It is a great honor for me on behalf of Xinya College to make this report on the building of hard-working spirit education courses with distinctive characteristics for undergraduates and related practical efforts. Today, I'll talk about Growing "On the Scene, Elsewhere, Collectively, and Locally" . Xinya's hard-working spirit education began in 2018. In October that year, led by the then Dean Gan Yang and with the help of the people of vision, Xinya started to build the first labor-based study base in Wuyuan, Jiangxi. Over the past four years, with the vigorous support of the university, local governments and the public, Xinya has built five labor bases in Jiangxi, Hubei, Shaanxi, and Beijing, and launched two compulsory labor-based study courses. Since 2018, hard-working spirit education has been fully achieved, and relevant resources benefited other departments. Based on the situation in the past few years, Xinya's labor-based study has played a positive role in helping students figure out the principles of labor and grow in labor. As a model of hard-working spirit education, it also provides certain characteristics and experience to be drawn.
First, I'll illustrate the characteristics of Xinya's labor-based study in practice. It is rich in content. Some transplanted rice seedlings in Wuyuan, some picked tea in Lichuan, some fed pigs in northern Shaanxi, and some planted beans and melons at the foot of Yangtai Mountain in the suburbs of Beijing. I am pleased to have attended the course in Lichuan this year. I, along with over 40 classmates, collected 7,000 kilograms of cabbage in one afternoon, and really felt my muscle thickened. Besides the rich content, Xinya's labor-based study has the three characteristics as follows.
First, the outdoor learning is immersive. In Lichuan this year, for example, 40 students from Xinya, led by a teacher and a student counselor, lived in the countryside for 14 days. The two weeks seem a quite short period on campus. The benefit of off-campus study is that students don't have to seize every minute for learning within the two weeks at least. Instead, they can be deeply involved in the labor-based study.
Second, it is incorporated into the systematic curriculum management. From the very beginning, Xinya has carried out curriculum management in entirety and covering the whole process in terms of labor-based study. It appears easy, but is actually difficult, especially when the epidemic prevails. To that end, Xinya has launched two courses: Labor-based Study Practice and Social Surveying, which are carried out outside Beijing during the summer holiday and in Beijing on weekends respectively. For each course, there is a pep rally, a summary meeting, and content planning. A labor-based study course outside Beijing may involve 6-7 villages and 7-10 programs within 14 days, so planning should be made at least a month earlier.
Third, the combination of farm work and study helps cultivate thinking. General Secretary Xi Jinping pointed out that "labor is the essential activity of human beings". In the evening when the work is done or on a rainy day when the work has to be stopped, the students will read books under the guidance of the teacher and discuss with each other, from which some ideas will take shape to further touch upon the underlying nature. To talk about The Analects of Confucius around the bonfire and read The Walden by the clouds have become important part of labor-based study.
I would also like to share with you the changes we observed labor-based study brought about to the students. First of all, it must be emphasized that not all the goals can be achieved with one course. I think there are at least two goals that cannot be achieved with labor-based study alone. The first goal is to master a labor technique. I saw the other day a farmer rushing over and snatching the sickle from a student who pointed it to the chest. Apparently, the instinct out of high-intensity and repeated labor won't be magically or naturally acquired by the students. The second goal is to understand the Chinese society. I have reminded the students at Xinya many times that we won't see the society as it is as long as we hold the arrogance of being a student of Tsinghua in practice or in mind.
So, how can the students improve themselves from labor-based study? In the past six months, I read the notes from Xinya students on labor-based study over these years. Leaving aside the kindness and superb literary talents of the students, I think there are at least four gains for us.
First, labor-based study enables students to feel the spirit of labor more directly on the scene. Some students have seen the "glory, nobility, greatness and beauty" of labor from practice, some realized the meaning of tenacity and persistence from the simple and repetitive labor work, and some started to think how to better solve practical problems and liberate people with what they learned.
Second, labor-based study endows students with a more comprehensive view of life itself as they are situated "elsewhere". Living elsewhere lays the foundation for better understanding of the place itself. Xinya's labor-based study bases generally boast beautiful scenery, fresh air, and unstable mobile phone signals. A student said that he was sleepy when reading The Walden at school, but they actually discussed about Thoreau until 3 o'clock in the morning here. Living elsewhere marks a rare experience for students to estrange and objectify Tsinghua and the metaverse. Some students began to relate the purpose of learning to the lives of others.
Third, labor-based study allows students to know each other better in the "collective". A student who did the farm work in Baishikeng Village was envious of his roommate who was visiting Oxford at the same time. Then he has refreshed his impression of those he had known for a long time. It turned out that they were so lovely, which had never been detected on the campus of Tsinghua University. He changed his mind. In my opinion, it is definitely not Thoreau himself that kept the discussion to 3 o'clock in the morning.
Fourth, labor-based study helps students to develop a deep relationship with the "soil". Many students recorded those real, ordinary people. There were female workers who took Douyin video clips after getting off work, school principals who treated people with "shagai" (leaf mustard) with a northern Shaanxi accent, and children with twinkling eyes or deliberately appearing indifferent. To love specific people needs to be learned. A student walked around the neighborhood before leaving. She said, I am leaving, but I start to be related with the people here.
On the National Day, students at Xinya College and Qiangji College went to the base in Beijing and sowed winter wheat. Before leaving, I saw the farmers watering the winter wheat that had just been sown. The sowing depths were different, and some seeds were even washed out by water. I was very worried and asked him if it was all right. Can they bear it with the advent of winter? The farmer glanced at me and said, don't worry, the field will be covered with green next spring. I think there is the significance of labor and education out of the expectation.