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Innovation of Education in Ming & Qing Dynasties (2)

(People's Daily Online)

11:15, July 23, 2012

Beijing Guozijian, Imperial College of Yuan, Ming and Qing Dynasties

Full-Bloom in the Ming Dynasty

With the coming of the Ming Dynasty, the imperial examination system reached its period of full bloom. Great attention was given to the administrative procedures and the tests became more rigorous.

Central government managed to found schools called 'guozijian', and strengthened their function to be the only road by which people could take the exams. There were in total three stages leading to realizing the dream of becoming an official: provincial examination (xiangshi), metropolitan examination (huishi) by the Board of Rites, and Palace examination (dianshi) by the emperor himself. Only students of 'guozijian', commonly known as 'xiucai', could participate at the provincial level as their starting point.

The provincial and metropolitan examiners tested only 'eight-legged' essays and people easily realized that the quality of that sort of essay was the key to achieving a pass. Therefore, it became usual for them to concentrate too much energy on it, neglecting other forms and contents. They were required to write in a fixed style with a fixed word count - it had to be eight paragraphs, while imitating the tone of the classics. Eventually, it was realized that this method was harmful as it stifled both creativity and imagination. Once these book worms had passed their exams, they could go further to take the simpler test set by the emperor. There were no failures during the Ming Dynasty, but each candidate's placing on the pass list was decided personally by the emperor.

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Email|Print|Comments(Editor:杜明明、叶欣)

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