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 How Tongji University's Tentative Programme for Transforming Education Was Born

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GREAT CULTURAL REVOLUTION IN PROGRESS

How Tongji University's Tentative Programme for Transforming Education Was Born

Source: Peking Review, No. 48, November 24, 1967
Transcribed by www.wengewang.org


    A PRODUCT of the great proletarian cultural revolution, the bounteous fruit of the revolutionary mass criticism and repudiation — this is how revolutionary students, teachers and workers of the Shanghai Tongji University describe the tentative proposals they have worked out for the transformation of education (see Peking Review, No. 47, 1967, p. 9).
   Their programme aims to turn the university into a "three-in-one" combination consisting of a tuitional, a designing and a building unit. Since its publication in Renmin Ribao on November 3, the programme has attracted wide attention for its bold and original ideas based on Chairman Mao's teachings, and has had strong repercussions up and down the country.
   The process by which this programme was brought into being was itself a stirring example of struggle in the cultural revolution.
   Chairman Mao teaches: "There Is no construction without destruction. Destruction means criticism and repudiation; It means revolution. It involves reasoning things out, which is construction. Put destruction first, and in the process you have construction."
   When the proletarian revolutionaries of Tongji University first tackled the problem of transforming education, they began with the destruction of the old educational system and its practices.
   Through the struggle of the cultural revolution during the past year and more, they had come to see more clearly that the handful of Party persons in authority taking the capitalist road had pursued a counter-revolutionary revisionist line in the university. In furtherance of their purpose to restore capitalism, these capitalist roaders exercised a bourgeois dictatorship and placed the university under the domination of bourgeois reactionary academic "authorities" and bourgeois intellectuals who had not been well remoulded ideologically. Under the pretext of passing on knowledge, these people peddled revisionist trash to poison the minds of the students and train them as successors to the bourgeoisie.
   The reactionary "authorities" in the Department of Architecture used to tell the students: "You will be trained into architects, that is, the equivalent of the conductor of an orchestra, not into masons."
 Those teaching design often said that "fancy is the catch word in design. If a design is so fancy that it gives people a shock, so much the better."
   Much of the teaching material was not only over-elaborate, repetitive, superfluous and foreign to China's actual conditions, worse still it was packed with feudal, capitalist and revisionist poison.
   The bourgeois "authorities" lavished time and energy on the discussion of Western styles of apartment houses and villas, stream-lined structure, pavilions, terraces, palaces and other traditional types of architecture.
   In the course of the revolutionary mass criticism and repudiation, the revolutionary students, teachers and workers at the university thoroughly exposed the evils of the revisionist educational system. They came to appreciate more profoundly the significance of this teaching of Chairman Mao's: "The period of schooling should he shortened, education should be revolutionized, and the domination of our schools by bourgeois intellectuals should by no means be allowed to continue."
   Early last July, a mass drive was launched in the university for the revolutionary criticism and repudiation of the revisionist line in education represented by China's Khrushchov, and of the domination of the university by bourgeois intellectuals. Many students went to factories and construction sites to undertake criticism and repudiation along with the workers. In the course of the revolutionary mass criticism and repudiation many preliminary programmes and proposals for the transformation of education emerged. On the basis of these proposals and the experience gained during the revolution in education in 1958, the embryo of a plan for a "three-in-one" combination was produced.
   Through the working out of the embryonic programme, the Tongji University revolutionaries came to realize that it was impossible to revolutionize education without destroying the old educational system and the revisionist line, and without drawing a clear line of demarcation politically, ideologically and theoretically between the two classes, two roads and two lines.
   Chairman Mao teaches: "The masses are the real heroes" and "The revolutionary war is a war of the masses; it can be waged only by mobilizing the masses and relying on them."
   The preliminary project became a matter of great interest to the whole university and won the support of the university's Revolutionary Committee (provisional organ of power). To test its practicability, the proletarian revolutionaries decided to take it to the workers, peasants and soldiers in the course of the three great revolutionary movements of class struggle, the struggle for production and scientific experiment.
   In August and September an investigation team was sent to building units, construction sites, and design institutes to solicit comments and criticisms from workers, technicians and engineers.
   Armed with first-hand information thus collected the investigators under the leadership of the Revolutionary Committee then referred the preliminary plan back to. the masses for extensive and thoroughgoing discussion.
   Big-character posters were put up, numerous meetings were held and forums organized so that people could air their views and fully and frankly exchange ideas. Many other preliminary plans and proposals were presented.
   Through comparative study of the diverse plans and by drawing on the merits of each of them, a final version, acceptable to the majority, was eventually produced. The new project, which combines teaching- designing and building, is named the "May 7th" Commune in honour of Chairman Mao's May 7 instruction of 1966 which says: "This holds good for students too. While' their main task is to study, they should in addition to their studies, learn other things, that is, industrial work, fanning and military affairs. They should also criticize the bourgeoisie.'*
   In the course of formulating the programme, the revolutionaries of Tongji learnt that so unprecedented a project could be drawn up only by relying on the masses to wage a ''people's war." As Chairman Mao says in his latest instruction: *'The proletarian revolution in education should be carried out by relying on the masses of the revolutionary students, teachers and workers in the schools, by relying on the activists among them, namely, those proletarian revolutionaries who are determined to carry the great proletarian cultural revolution through to the end."
   Vice-Chairman Lin Piao has said that "Mao Tse-tung's thought is the guiding principle for all the work of the Party, the army and the country" and that "once Mao Tse-tung's thought is grasped by the broad masses, it becomes an inexhaustible source of strength and a spiritual atom bomb of infinite power."
   The revolutionaries of Tongji University attribute their successful work in transforming education, in the first place, to their creative study and application of Chairman Mao's works, to the guidance of Mao Tse-tung's thought. They say that it is a young shoot nurtured by the invincible thought of Mao Tse-tung.
   When the preliminary programme was first worked out, it was strongly resisted by certain bourgeois reactionary academic "authorities" who at tempted to strangle in the cradle this new-born thing with its infinite vitality. They derided it as "Utopian Communism." Some even tried to slander it as "reformist" and "wrong in its general orientation."
   Under these vicious attacks, the revolutionary students, teachers and workers made a still more assiduous study of the great leader Chairman Mao's teachings on classes and class struggle. They have come to see that since the proletarian educational revolution is an earth-shaking revolution on the educational front, it is bound to meet with resistance. And this strengthens their fighting will.
   Chairman Mao teaches: "Often, correct knowledge can be arrived at only after many repetitions of the process lending from matter to consciousness and then back to matter, that is, leading from practice to knowledge and then back to practice."
   With the support of the Shanghai Municipal Revolutionary Committee, Tongji University is now sending a group of revolutionary students, teachers and workers, along with technicians from the East China Institute of Industrial Design, to try out the programme at a construction site and to further improve it in the course of practice. They are determined to build the university into a great school of Mao Tse-tung's thought.
  
  
  

 
 
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