How Gao Kao style of examination serve in today’s world?

Blog forum at The China Daily-English

Blog forum at The China Daily-English

In my last blog post, I talked about bringing Confucius values in today’s world to have some sort of enlightenment in the life. Last time, I emphasized on the concept of life long learning. After writing the post, I started to read how those teachings were practiced in ancient times. It did not take much time to reach a single answer, ‘Gao Kao’.

What is Gao Kao?
Some of you are already aware of this word. ‘Gao Kao’ is the name given to the examination held for selecting civil servants in ancient China. It has been conducted for many centuries, even in the backdrop of rise and fall in dynasties. Regarded as one of the best ways to judge talent, it has long history of producing quality officials and sought by many talented youngsters as a way to build life time career. The respect achieved in finishing this examination was an added bonus.
I am not historian so cannot comment if all those selected officials were good enough. But it was regarded a good system in finding top talent to serve in the emperor/king court.
You must be asking yourself, why I am talking about an old exam in today, 21st century?? Well, there is some connection of this exam with present world.

How Confucius teachings were used?
As far as I know, as part of this exam, every person had to memorize teachings of Confucius. Only after clearing the teachings, he could be qualified to go further level.
Why this was necessary? Teachings of Confucius served as ways of inserting ethics among the aspiring candidates. Through his teachings, they were indirectly trained to make decisions keeping highest moral standards. Confucius teachings served as a moral authority to distinguish between right and wrong.
It could be once again the topic of discussions on whether or not, the values were uphold under extreme political pressures. But certainly educated class or say decision making official class, in those time were feed with information about ethics, moral values and social standards.

Relevance in today’s world?
Now, you will ask me, why I am talking once again about the ancient world? What is the significance of this in today’s world?
Slowly slowly, teachings of ethics has completely disappeared in the classroom. So, there is no way a graduate coming out of the university can judge, at times on whether acting in some way is right or wrong? I am sure, you might have seen many recent discussions among thinkers on how to infuse ethical decision making in today’s educated people? It is not necessary to teachings of Confucius, but certainly examination system like Gao Kao can serve an inspiration to reduce unethical decision making in todays world.

Not sure, if this can be the best way but at least learning from ancient China can not be ruled out in present context. Do you think the same?

(Why Gao Kao style of examination is relevant today?My perspective, first appeared in The China Daily Blog Forum, 24-01-2015)


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