Some additional evaluations of Chu Van An’s contributions to Vietnamese culture from today’s persepctive.
In 1994, the Communist Party of Vietnam implemented the Resolution of the Fourth Plenum focusing on education and training of the Vietnamese culture. The goal was to revitalize the role of teachers and honor them. During this period of teacher appreciation, there was a new found interest and understanding of Chu Van An and his influence of Vietnamese education and culture. Restoration of monuments in the hometown of Chu Van An, and other memorial activities began to take place. Continuing today, Van Mieu – Quoc Tu Giam Culture and Science Center not only honors Chu Van An as a traditional teacher but also as a cultural icon. Chu Van An is honored nationwide.
Chu Van An dedicated his life to be a teacher to all; forgoing the opportunity to be a mandarin. He felt responsible to train talents for the nation with his teachings. He thought that teaching a future king would be the best for the country. His teachings and beliefs have been handed down in the history of Vietnam from generation to generation. Chu Van An is best described as a wise man, a talented and virtuous teacher, who over time has had a profound influence on contemporary culture and education.
Chu Van An, “a model educator of all time,” is not merely a teacher, an intellectual, an official, or poet but also a cultural activist. It has been expressed that nowadays Confucian education is no longer appreciated (Chinese characters and Confucian ideology), therefore it is illogical to say that Chu Van An is an exemplary educator of all time Vietnamese scholars disagree with that statement because he was a great teacher providing students with both knowledge and a moral compass. If an individual understands Chinese characters and Confucian ideology, he/she has the opportunity to examine and perfect themselves. As a result, Confucian ideology and Chinese characters help to make society better. Chu Van An’s educational ideology is still applicable in modern time. He always appreciated the importance of intellectuals; education and culture that help develop and maintain social order. His life, career and the period in which he lived provide future generations valuable lessons. He placed importance on culture which still holds true today. The development or decline of a nation depends crucially on its cultural, and spiritual basis.
His life and career leave us a clear proof of a great intellectual. For hundreds of years, historians and cultural activists have deeply respected Chu Van An for his personality along with his intellect, virtue and responsibility for the nation. Living in the time when the country witnessed a chaotic political situation, he was not afraid to lose his career and even his life submitting a petition called ‘That tram so’ to the King Tran Du Tong to demand that seven bad mandarins be executed immediately. Being a courageous official, he never yielded to violence; moreover, fame and wealth were not the things that desired. His courageous act was an initiation for people to resolve the conflicts between authorities and intellectuals. It was because only when intellectuals overcame the lures by their desire for power and fame could they show their real abilities.
His lifestyle and lofty soul are as a good example for people of all generations. Furthermore, it does make sense in modern time when the nation is growing faster and faster. As a result, people tend to run after money, fame and technology, so they forget traditional beliefs. They became increasingly dependent on material conditions; their souls became insensitive, empty and filled with mixed-up information. With his courageous spirit, Chu Van An led a meaningful and modest life in a disorganized society. His lifestyle initiates a positive orientation for future generations, despite differences between the time he lived and present day.
Author: Associate Professor and Dr. Le Quy Duc
Translator: Chuong Van