Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Confucius and School Leadership

As a leader, how do you demonstrate Confucian leadership?  

Guest post by: Benjamin Law

School leaders demonstrate leadership and leadership capacity in many dimensions. What relationship do you see between the moral standard and the leadership of the school leader?

There were five classics of the Confucian canon in ancient Chinese. “Book of Rites” was one of the Five Classics.   It described the social forms, governmental system, and ancient/ceremonial rites of the Zhou Dynasty (c. 1050–256 BCE). The original text is believed to have been compiled by Confucius himself, whilst the edition usually referred to today was edited and re-worked by various scholars during the Han Dynasty (202 BCE – 220 CE). (Wikipedia)

In one of the chapters of the “Book of Rites”, called “Great Learning”, it has been mentioned that:

The ancients who wished to illustrate illustrious virtue throughout the world, first ordered well their own States.
Wishing to order well their States, they first regulated their families.
Wishing to regulate their families, they first cultivated their persons.
Wishing to cultivate their persons, they first rectified their hearts.”
                                                                                             (Great Learning, Book of Rites)

“Rectifying the hearts” can be interpreted as having a high moral standard. If a person would like to lead a country or state, the person’s heart should be rectified at the beginning.

This philosophy is significant because it ties into many themes of Chinese philosophy and political thinking and it has been influential in both classical and modern Chinese thought. It correlates individual action and higher goals such as ultimate world peace. 


  1. Wow. Never would have thought that I'd be using 2000-year-old ideas to guide my practice. Tells me a lot about how some things in education are truly timeless.

    I really like the piece about the moral imperative of leadership. This will never be out of fashion.

  2. Agreed! In fact, I'd go as far as to say that if it's not moral leadership, it's a form of tyranny disguised as leadership.