China's Thriving Confucian Schools

January 3, 2008

Author: Jill McGivering

Source: BBC News

As soon as they walk into the tiny school, a converted apartment in a tower block, the children are bundled into grey cotton wraparound robes, fastened at the back with modern Velcro.

Flowing sleeves flap round their wrists, square black hats wedged on to their heads - some, too big, slip down over the eyes.

The children, from three to six years old, have come to special weekend classes to learn the teachings of China's ancient sage, Confucius.

Every room here has a large portrait of Confucius.

The teacher shows the children how to put their hands together and bow to him before the start of each lesson.

In some classes, they sing and play chasing games. In others, the teacher holds up complex Chinese characters on white cards and the children recite the sayings of the great teacher.

"In a group of three people, one of them will become my teacher," they chant in high voices.

Many of the sayings extol the virtues of harmony, humility and courtesy to others.