Education system of Zhou Dynasty


The names of the different schools are very perplexing. Under the Kâu dynasty they had its own schools and those of the three former dynasties; four buildings, all erected in proximity to one another. Almost in the centre was the Pî Yung (辟壅)of Kâu itself. On the north of it was the school of Shun (the lord Yü); on the east that of Hsiâ; and on the west that of Shang.

Those who were learning the use (in dancing) of the shield and spear, and of the plume and flute, went to the eastern school; those who were learning ceremonies went to that of Shang; and those who were learning history, to that of Shun. In the Pî Yung the son of Heaven nourished the old, sent forth his armies, matured his plans, received prisoners, and practised archery. When he came to the Pî Yung, they came from all the other three schools, and stood round the encircling water to look at him. These were all schools for young boys.

In the Book of Rites, Chapter 18, the Record of Learning (or Xe Ji the Record on the subject of Education), "According to the system of ancient teaching, for the families of (a hamlet) there was the village school; for a neighbourhood there was the Xiang; for the larger districts there was the Xü; and in the capitals there was the college.

The hamlet was supposed to contain twenty-five families, in a city, this might be called a Lü (闾) or Li (里), and the private family school was called Shu (私塾); A neighbourhood (Dang, 党) contained 500 families, and the school in the Dang was called Xiang; the large district that contains 2,500 families, was called Zhou (州), even larger area containing 12500 families was called the Sui or Shu (遂,术) and its school was Xu, the largest was college, every feudal state had highest education institute in the capital, called College.

The most promising scholars (in the family schools) were removed to the Xiang; the best in the hsiang, again to the Xü; and the best in the Xü, to the Xiâo. The best in these were removed finally to the great school (or college) in the suburbs (of the capital). Such is the system of graduated training.


In teaching the heir-sons (of the king and feudal princes), and young men (chosen from their aptitude) for learning, the subjects were different at different seasons. In spring and summer they were taught the use of the shield and spear; in autumn and winter that of the feather and flute:--all in the eastern school. The inferior directors of music taught the use of the shield aided by the great assistants. The flute masters taught the use of the spear, aided by the subdirectors, while the assistants regulated by the drum (the chanting of) the Nan.

Nan (南)is much disputed. James Legge thought this term should embrace the two Nan, or two first Books of the Poem, Zhou Nan and Zhao Nan. Zheng Xuan of the Han dynasty annotate, "Nan, music of southern Yi tribes." Many Chinese scholars adpoted this view, thing Nan is music or ballard songs of Nan. But the area of Nan was not in Southern China, but south to the Yellow River, which was the south part of "Middle Kingdom".