Ancient Chinese Principles of Educating Children: Cultivating Moral Character and Virtue

October 17, 2011 at 9:02 am | Posted in Asia, Children's Stories, Culture, Good Advice, Life Lessons, Moments from History, Reflections, Relevance to Today, Stories from China | Leave a comment
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Fan Zhongyan Educated His Children to Be Noble-minded

Fan Zhongyan

Fan Zhongyan was a thinker and an educator, during the Northern Song Dynasty, who was familiar with Confucianism and Taoism. He believed in Buddhism, and he served as a political advisor. In his “Yueyang Tower,” he wrote the everlasting sentence, “One should be the first to think about the state and the last to claim his share of happiness.” He was very strict in educating his children. He taught his children to be self-cultivated and do good deeds. From his teachings, his four sons all gained profound knowledge and integrity. The Fan family was frugal and loved to help others.

Fan Zhongyan once directed his second son, Fan Chunren, to bring buckets of wheat from Suzhou to Sichuan Province. On his way back, Chunren met his old friend Shi Manqing. He quickly learned that Shi’s family had become destitute.

Shi’s family members had passed away, but he had no money for the funerals or plots. As soon as Chunren heard of Shi’s plight, he gave the buckets of wheat to him as a gift to help him go back to his hometown. Fan Chunren went home and was nervous about telling this to his father, so he just stood near his father for a long time and was afraid of mentioning it.

Fan Zhongyan asked him, “Did you meet with your friend at Suzhou?”

Fan Chunren said, “Yes, when I passed by Danyang, I met Shi Manqing. He was stuck there without enough money.”

Fan Zhongyan said, “Why didn’t you give him the wheat?”

Fan Chunren said, “I did.” When Fan Zhongyan heard what his son had done, he was very pleased and repeatedly praised his son for doing the right thing.

Although Fan Zhongyan attained a high rank in the government and had a high income, he didn’t keep money for his children, and instead used all his wealth to help the poor, and served as a role model for his offspring. When his first son Fan Chunyou was 16, he followed Fan Zhongyan to fight against Xixia and received many rewards for his bravery. He was his father’s great assistant. The second son, Fan Chunren, later took over as the prime minister. During the 50 years he worked as a government official, he had done everything to carry out his responsibilities. The third son, Fan Chunli, was an assistant to the premier. The fourth son, Fan Chuncui, was deputy minister of civil affairs. With their father’s positive influence, the sons were all righteous and caring towards their people. They were honest, upright, and frugal. They used most of their income to help the poor villages and lived a frugal life themselves.

The ancient philosophy of family education has always included an orientation towards viewing ethics as the highest moral value. Parents always want to leave the best for their children. In fact, regardless of how much money parents leave for their children, they are merely worldly possessions. Only teaching children to do good deeds and focusing on virtue is a desirable long-term plan for children, because virtue is the most fundamental and the best attribute. It is the source of all blessings. It is the most reliable wealth you can leave for your children.

Posting date: 3/26/2011
Category: Traditional Culture
Chinese version available at古人教子理念-重德修身(四)-236986.html


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