Principal's Welcome

Self Discipline and Return to Propriety


I have been the Principal of the BFHMC for eight years.  On the almost 3000 occasions of sun rise and sunset during these past eight years, my beloved family members have been accompanying me to run throughout this journey, motivating me to move forward continuously.  To fly with me in my dreams are the faces of each and every one of the school campus and also the fortune and future of the four hundred families of these faces.


In retrospect of these past days of teaching, I have paid frequent home visits to students, gaining the opportunity of meeting them.  In the dialogue with the parents and the students, I always asked them and also myself, “What is the real purpose of education?”  To face this questions, I will ask the parents, “What is expected in the contents of my teaching?”  At the same time I also ask myself, “What do I want to teach?”  If there is no difference between “expected .. of me” and “I want”, the matter will arrive at the end successfully.  It is a pity that from my experience in the past years of teaching, there are great disparities between these two issues.  Then, how should I make my choice?


What is expected in the contents of my teaching?


Most parents, especially those who stress more on the concept of “winning at the starting line”, wish to see the school offer as many courses as it is possible.  They have been saying that the mind of their children is like a piece of “sponge” which leaves much room for them to absorb the water ingredients of knowledge.  The more they can absorb, they can have higher chances of winning.  Is this really true?  If that is the case, why do we need going to school?  The children can save their time of travelling to and fro school and stay at home to learn in front of their computer monitors.  It is for sure that there is more knowledge stored inside a computer than what the teachers can offer.  The information is even more accurate.  This type of learning is more effective and helps the students gaining enriched knowledge.  If classes in the school can only foster the contents of the specified courses, it is for sure that computer will win over the teachers.


Now every student who is going to sit the DSE examination will take different external tuition classes.  These tuition classes groom the students continuously with examination skills but lack inspiration of thinking.  This echoes rightly of what the parents’ appeal in their “expectation of me” in the contents of the teaching.  If this is right, why don’t we use computers to replace our teachers?  We are not doing this because we believe that the human brains will win over the computers.  Human brains become smarter when being used more while computers will become more defective when being used more.  I believe that teaching is not mere indifferent teaching of data or historical facts for them to remember hardly.  We also use the example of helping a hunger really is to teach him the skills of catching fish and not merely feeding him with fish.  As such, “telling the student to find out the answers” is the proper way of teaching a student with good results and not giving him “the answers”.  Those who know how to “find the answers by themselves” ae capable of developing their life long learning competence.  Yet the cramming style of education system can hardly see these results.  Parents, do you want to give up this type of pursuit and to agree that the school is the place where the children are being taught to learn by their hearts willingly?


What do I want to teach?


As I do not agree to the contents of “expected of me”, I have to ask “what I want” to teach the students in my capacity as the principal.  When the parents show confidence with the school by leaving their beloved children for us to teach and foster.  At the end of the six years thereafter, what kind of child that we have developed for return to the parents?  In this connection, in the learning career throughout these six years, what do the students have to learn?  Are they learning to become an “examination machine”? Or a piece of “sponge for the purpose of absorbing knowledge”?  Or to become a gentleman ready to shoulder responsibilities, bearing a loving heart of “equality among all human and things” and a indomitable spirit.  Considering the case of a university graduate who possesses comprehensive general knowledge but he cannot restraint his personal desires, resulting in out of control behavior without due consideration of others, lacking the respect of others, what type of person he would be?  Will he become blessing or curses to the society?

“Possession of comprehensive general knowledge” can be acquired through the computer.   The formation of his personality will be built on the efforts of the personal traits of his teachers and on the interactions with teachers and fellow students.  It is not an easy task to restraint personal desires, not acting indiscriminatingly, showing respect in all arenas, respecting the society, respecting the country and dare winning over oneself, not being tempted by external matters, and to take actions on the principle of virtues.  If he can really fulfill these, “the whole world will ascribe perfect virtues”!  To practice self discipline, upholding one’s personal behavior and to make everything “to follow propriety” will be the contents of my teaching.


In practice, how do we teach?  “To practice perfect virtues from oneself” means everything starts with oneself at the outset.  The first principle is “don’t see, listen, speak nor act when it is not in accordance with propriety”.  The efforts of self discipline rests on the word “don’t”.  Teachers have to set an exemplary style, starting from nitty-gritty, so that they may reach the ideal state of “leading an improved lifestyle” and “managing a family properly”.  Students will be eager to follow example of the teacher like birds of the same feather flocking together.  “The human nature is good at the time of birth”.  Teachers should guide students to remove all personal desires which mask our conscience of development so that we may “find our true self”.  This is in line with the sayings of the scholar ZHU Xi of the Sung Dynasty, “while having restrained our personal desires, the principles of heaven and earth will resume, as in the case of removing dirt, the mirror will be shiny, or as in the case of clearing broken tiles and bricks, the room will be clean”.  He also added, “there is a balancing effect between the principles of heaven and earth that our personal desires.  When personal desires can be restrained, propriety can resume.”


When we are teaching students to “practice self discipline and return to propriety”, we are laying a good foundation for the development of perfect personality.  Yet, it is not easy to practice self-discipline especially when we are facing the current society which is full of temptations.  As WANG Yangmíng says, “it is easy to eradicate the criminal in the mountains but it is difficult to remove the criminal in our heart.”  Teachers, you have a long journey to go for your heavy responsibility! Students, you should not disappoint us in our expectation of you.  Work hard for the future, Run!