The Realm of Life:Teng Dachun, the Founder of the History of Foreign Education in China



Teng Dachun (1909 ~ 2002), born in Yanshang village, Tongxian County, Beijing, is the founder of the discipline of foreign educational history in China and enjoys a high reputation in educational history. He was admitted to the Department of Education of Peking University in 1929. Influenced by the patriotism and rigorous academic tradition of Peking University, he was deeply inspired by his life and study. In 1932, he won the first-class scholarship for outstanding students of Peking University, which was praised by teachers and students. In 1947, Teng Dachun went to the United States to study comparative education and the history of foreign education at Colorado State University, and successively received a master's degree and a doctor's degree in education. After the founding of new China, he actively responded to the call of the party and the state and resolutely returned to China in 1950. He successively served as a professor of Hebei Normal University, Tianjin Normal University, Hebei University and Nankai University. As the first doctoral degree authorization point of foreign education history in China was established, he served as the doctoral supervisor of foreign education history in the Department of education of Hebei University in 1986.

1.  Academic Research: Writing books and Taking History as a Mirror

Teng Dachun has worked hard in educational history research for nearly 70 years, with a wide reputation and extraordinary achievements. He has made outstanding achievements in the research fields of ancient foreign (Eastern) educational history, American educational history and Rousseau's educational theory, and has written fruitful works. He has published monographs such as "History of American Education", "American Education Today", "Review of Rousseau's Educational Thought", "University Education in the Era of Developed Science and Technology” and "History of German Education"; He edited many books, including "History of Ancient Foreign Education", "History of Modern Foreign Education" and "General History of Foreign Education"(six volumes in total). In addition, he also served as editor-in-chief of "Foreign Education” branch of Encyclopedia of China Education" and editor-in-chief of "Education Dictionary History of Foreign Education". He has published more than 80 monographs. In 1998, he published his personal education anthology " History of Foreign Education and Foreign Education". Teng Dachun's works and his educational thought have had a great impact on educational history at home and abroad. Among them, “The Review of Rousseau's Educational Thought “won the first prize of the first national excellent achievements in educational science and the first prize of the excellent achievements in social science research in Hebei Province; “The History of American education “is a key project of the Seventh Five Year Plan of the Ministry of Education. It won the second prize of the second national excellent achievement in educational science in 1999 and the first prize of the fifth excellent achievement in Social Science in Hebei Province; “The General History of Foreign Education” won the nomination award of the second National Book Award and the Ninth China Book Award. It is recognized by the academic community as a foundational classic academic work of the discipline.

Teng Dachun's research on many issues in foreign educational history is of pioneering significance and has achieved remarkable results. His academic views and opinions have been widely praised and respected by educational historians at home and abroad. The main manifestations are as follows: First, according to the archaeological excavation of foreign scholars and the interpretation of Sumerian, he believed that the education of ancient oriental countries is not only comparable to that of ancient western countries, but also developed earlier than that of ancient western countries. He also made an in-depth exploration of Buddhist Education and Islamic education, so as to get rid of the narrowness and one sidedness of taking Christian education as the main body in the past. In this way, the misunderstanding caused by the deep-rooted "Eurocentrism" for many years has been corrected, and the discipline research field of foreign education history has been expanded, thus showing the real face of the development and evolution of human education. Second, he replaced the theory of "cultural monism" with "cultural pluralism", which not only took into account the growth of education in eastern and Western countries, but also attached importance to the communication and exchange of education between eastern and Western countries. He believed that human culture and education is not an insulator. Nowadays, schools in general countries are mixed race children. They only look at the education of various times and countries in isolation, but should focus on the integrity of human education. He believed that only by mastering this integrity can we truly "make the past serve the present" and "make foreign things serve China". Third, he paid attention to analyzing the development of education from the perspective of class, but he also respected the great benefits of Educational Construction in various historical periods for production struggle and cultural accumulation, and broke the old idea that the history of education had been unilaterally distorted as the history of class struggle in the field of education. Fourth, based on a large number of detailed educational history materials, he conducted an in-depth study on the history of the development and evolution of American education, and believed that the strength of the American country lies in the construction of educational system and the exploration of educational theory. The road of American educational development basically conforms to the objective law of human historical development, which provides an example for many countries to continue to develop education.

2. Cultivating Pupils: Being Clean and Modest, With Students All Over the World

Teng Dachun worked silently and selflessly for the education of the motherland. He has been teaching for more than 60 years, always adhering to the front line of teaching, and has cultivated several generations of talents in the education for the motherland. In his teaching post for more than half a century, Teng Dachun taught pedagogy, foreign education history, selected readings of foreign education classics, American education and other courses. In teaching, he integrated ancient and modern Chinese and foreign education, drew lessons from others, made it simple, paid attention to broadening students' basic knowledge and improving their scientific research ability, liked academic, democratic and equal discussions with students, and was known as a good teacher and friend. He was modest, kind, sincere and cautious. He tried his best to answer the questions asked by many teachers and students and rewards the backward. Although he grew old, he became more firm in teaching. He was still tireless in teaching over 90. After 1987, he devoted his main energy to cultivating high-quality doctoral students in foreign educational history for the country, and trained more than 10 doctoral students, most of which have become the academic backbone of foreign educational history circles. Teng Dachun regarded doctoral students as a great wealth of the country and required them to be steadfast, “reading with a patriotic heart". Due to his outstanding work achievements, Teng Dachun was rated as a labor model of the national education system in 1989, won the people's teacher medal, and won the honorary certificate of labor model of the people's Government of Hebei Province in the same year. He began to enjoy "special government allowance” in 1992. In 1995, he was named "excellent expert in provincial management" and "senior excellent expert in provincial management" by Hebei provincial Party committee and Hebei provincial government. Mr. Teng attended the meeting of the National Association of veteran professors and was cordially received by General Secretary Jiang Zemin in September 1996.

"Learning is inseparable from being a man, and morality and articles cannot be separated." Teng Dachun not only said that, but also practiced it and became a model for students. Despite his high academic reputation and long age, Teng Dachun has always been very modest and tolerant in dealing with people. No matter whether the other is senior or young, he is treated equally. He is very kind, polite and modest, not like a scholar, an elder and a venerable person in the traditional sense. When he reached the age of 90, he often greeted and sent off all the guests who visited him in person. He often sent the guests downstairs. Teng Dachun was modest, peaceful and open-minded, which truly reflected the demeanor of academic people. Teng Dachun is upright and clean. He ignores all money, status, honor and disgrace. He silently contributes to the education of the motherland and never cares about material interests. Although he was a senior professor, he lived a very simple life, even a little miserable. In his later years, Teng Dachun settled in Beijing. A family of three generations, old and young, lived in a 50 square meter house. The students went to his home for classes. His family had to get up early and tidy up the floor to make room for classes. He really worked hard on education and students. At the age of 80 or 90, he still revised papers for students line by line in hot weather. Sometimes, after correcting a student's paper, he had no complaints about his serious illness. Mr. Teng has been burning himself like a candle to illuminate others for decades, and has diligently completed his life.

Editor's Note

Wang Guowei, a famous scholar, once proposed the theory of "realm". He said that "Ci takes realm as the top. A realm makes a poetry and brings famous sentences.” Teng Dachun was such a person with realm. His realm lay in his behavior, scholarship, personality and cultivation. The power of this "realm" can nourish the soul, penetrate time and space, and be peaceful and lasting. He is a leading figure in educational history in China and a giant in the study of foreign educational history. He is a professional and a versatile person; He is a scholar and an educator full of peaches and plums. From his life and struggle, we can realize the lofty "realm" of a master in his academic attitude and personality cultivation, and he was pure-hearted and self-contained.