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Kneeling down to teachers: sign of shame or respect?

2014-11-20 13:58:37



A screen shot shows students worshipping their teachers on bended knees on the opening day of Beijing Phoenix Mountain Academy, Oct 28, 2014. [Photo from Internet]

A group of photos showing students worshipping their teachers on bended knees on the opening day of Beijing Phoenix Mountain Academy prompted heated debate among Chinese netizens.

Some netizens said kowtowing is an outdated part of traditional Chinese culture which should be abandoned and some even say the behavior is a total "shame".

Han Guodong, the academic dean of the academy, explained that netizens misinterpreted the meaning of kowtow. Actually, they intend to use this action to show great respect to teachers and their teaching, which is based on the master-apprentice relationships from traditional Chinese culture.

The picture on the Internet, taken on Oct 28 which has been confirmed by Han Guodong, shows students in grey long gowns with both knees bent on the ground as they kowtow to their teachers, who sit on chairs wearing black gowns with red collars.

As part of the ceremony, the students also held up tea bowls and offered tea to their teachers. Netizens pointed out that Yang Xiaoyang, head of the China National Academy of Painting, was also seen among the teachers who received the gesture.

According toBeijing News, Han Guodong said, "Yang Xiaoyang at first refused to accept the kowtow, and said that as an public officer, the etiquette can be removed. Only after we explained to him the meaning of the behavior, then he agreed."

Han said, "The etiquette originated from Confucianism. In ancient times, apprentices had to kneel down and thank their masters before they started learning handicrafts. This is a commitment that the apprentices show their determination to learn from teachers and teachers show their sincerity to impart knowledge. This committee is sacred and lofty and both sides conduct the ceremony voluntarily."


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