UBC Graduate Research

Keep warm the old : educating for virtue Ma, Ying


Topics around standardized testing, teaching efficiency and effectiveness have recently aroused heated debates within and about schooling systems in both China and Canada. Instead of pursuing the “right” answers for the current disputes, however, I have chosen to return to ancient dialogues and explore the meaning and purpose of schooling: education. I hope to understand and re-interpret my own experiences as a teacher more educationally. In order to accomplish this ultimate aim, I examine my teaching through the lenses of two philosophers from more than two thousand and four hundred years ago. Both are concerned with educating people to act well in the world, that is, with fostering good character. One is from the West; one from the East: Aristotle and Confucius. Using as primary sources Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics and Confucius’ Analects, I ask three fundamental questions: “Why do we educate?”, “What counts as educating?” and “How might we educate? ” by creating dialogues among Aristotle, Confucius, their various interpreters and myself. In Chapter Two: Why Do we Educate? I explore the notions of eudaimonia (happiness) and dao (the way). In Chapter Three: What counts as Educating? I study phronesis (practical wisdom) and ren (humanity). In Chapter Four: How Do We Educate? I examine the relationship between habitus (habituation) and li (rituals). In Keeping Warm the Old: Educating for Virtue, I attempt to recover and reinterpret critical, but largely neglected, educational resources for modern schooling.

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