According to The Complete Annals of Dai Viet (Dai Viet Su Ky Toan Thu), Chu Van An was born in 1292 in Van Thon village, now part of Thanh Tri District in Hanoi. After he passed doctoral examinations, he refused to work as a mandarin and returned to his native village to open a school and worked as a teacher
His syllabus mostly revolved around Confucian teachings, thus making him one of the most important figures in spreading Confucianism to Vietnam. His decision not to enter into government service was a wise one, as he had a real gift for teaching. He strongly believed that a good teacher must be strict and act as a role model, both intellectually and ethically, for his students. During his teaching career, many of his students became top officials in the Vietnamese government, including Emperor Tran Minh Tong’s son Tran Vuong, who later went on to become Emperor Tran Hien Tong.
While Chu Van An’s professional career was straightforward in official historical documents, his fame and ability as an educator have inspired many a myth among the common people. In one such story, his teaching ability was so remarkable that even river spirits attended his classes.
Chu Van An was dedicated at Van Mieu in Hanoi from 1370 to 1809. When Nguyen Dynasty moved the new capital to Hue, thedynasty founded another university as the highest examination center. During this time, Van Mieu in Hanoi, was no longer the biggest national university, and was used as a small school. Since 1837, Chu Van An has been honored in Hue. He is honored as the greatest educator of the nation both in Hanoi and Hue.
Throughout the country, Chu Van An is honored in the community temple in every village as a Sage or Saint and an educator. In addition, other well – known scholars who passed doctoral examinations and inspired and supported their village are also honored.
During his career, Chu Van An wrote many famous books in Chinese. Some of these books have survived and inspired historians and scholars to achieve great things.
Chu Van An spent his entire life teaching and training students in three different areas of Vietnam, including his hometown, Quoc Tu Giam (The first national university) and Hai Duong. One Chinese document states Chu Van An was the first man to open a private school that attracted many students from near and far with his lofty soul and immense knowledge. Through the ups and downs of life, Chu Van An made contributions to rule the nation and train the talents. He is revered among the Vietnamese people
Writer: PhD. Nguyen Huu Mui (Han Nom Institute)
The text extracted from “Chu Van An – his life and; career” seminar