Calligraphy represents culture

Updated: 2011-09-06 08:49

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Computers have had the greatest impact on communications and learning, especially writing Chinese characters. Children and even many adults who have become used to typing Chinese characters on computers and mobile phones - which offer multiple options - are forgetting how to write with pen or brush on paper. Fortunately, the Ministry of Education has issued a regulation asking schools to hold at least one calligraphy class a week from grades three to six. Conditions permitting, such classes are supposed to start in some regions from this autumn, says an article in Qianjiang Evening News. Excerpts:

Chinese characters are more than a tool of communication. Valuing Chinese characters and the art of calligraphy are the first step to realizing "cultural consciousness", according to eminent sociologist Fei Xiaotong.

The timely move by the Ministry of Education will not only deepen our love for the mother tongue, but also safeguard traditional culture at a time when the world is undergoing cultural transformation.

But the measure aimed to protect our mother tongue could fall into the trap of utilitarian education. In fact, though some city schools have included calligraphy classes in their curriculum, many of them have not hired professional calligraphy teachers and instead started extra classes for "major courses" such as math and English.

It is almost impossible to generate primary school students' interest in calligraphy without reducing the pressure of other "activity classes". This could make it difficult for the ministry's regulation to be implemented at all levels.

It seems too ideal and luxurious a concept for today's children to lead a serene and relaxed life in which they can enjoy the gifts of nature and the arts. When students are forced to bend over desks for hours doing homework, they seem to be forced into becoming part of the rat race that most of the grown-ups have come to enjoy.

(China Daily 09/06/2011 page9)