EDITED BY LINDA ARKIN
NEW YORK: THE AMERICAN FORUM FOR GLOBAL EDUCATION, 1996
120 WALL STREET, SUITE 2600
NEW YORK, NY 10005
154 LOOSELEAF PAGES
Spotlight on Confucius: Chinese Classics and Cultural Values has as its goal to “examine the flow of Chinese thought and examine its implications for the Chinese both in China and abroad.” It was produced and published by The American Forum for Global Education and follows the favorably received Spotlight on “Ramayana”: An Enduring Tradition. Professor Chad Hansen of the University of Hong Kong directed the project and expanded upon the goal by noting the rising importance of including studies of China in social studies for “all students” and not just for those of Chinese descent who are interested in learning more about their heritage in their adopted country. In his introduction to this compilation of lesson plans, background information, source materials, and teaching tips, he argues eloquently for presenting “viable alternatives [to] our outlook on life,” and goes on to state that China’s is the “richest and most diverse alternative history has delivered to us.”
The main strength of this curriculum unit (it is referred to in the preface as “enrichment material” but due to its high level of detail and comprehensiveness deserves to be part of a curriculum) is that it was compiled by twenty-five teachers working with eight college and university professors. Having this many minds facilitating this much articulation between secondary and tertiary education is breathtaking and worthy in itself of emulation. Coordinating so many contributors must have been an enormous task, yet somehow the lessons progress in an orderly, meaningful fashion, with few lapses. It is obvious that different participants worked on different lessons to be included in the compilation (which complicated the transitions and thematic links between them all the more), but this strategy appears to have had a serendipitous consequence: several of the lessons have “background material” or “student handouts” that repeat and reword the fundamentals about Confucius and Confucianism. I don’t know whether or not this was intentional, but the effect is to reinforce the key concepts so that all users of this curriculum should feel comfortable with it.