A Legend Lends His Name: TC’s Center on Chinese Education will be renamed for Tao Xingzhi, China’s great education reformer

JOINING FORCES TC President Susan Fuhrman and China-America Friendship Association Executive Chairman Yunfei Xiao, both seated, sign an agreement to work toward renaming the College's Center on Chinese Education. Looking on (from left): Ting Zhao, the Association's Secretary General; Suzanne Murphy, TC's Vice President for Development & External Affairs; Professor Mun Tsang, founding Director of the soon-to-be-renamed Center; and Cheng Davis, Special Advisor to President Fuhrman.

The story is legend, both at Teachers College and in China: In 1915, a young man named Tao Sing Wen came to TC to study with John Dewey, Paul Monroe and William Heard Kilpatrick. Upon returning home to China, he changed his name to Tao Xingzhi, which means “doing, then knowing” – a direct reference to Dewey’s philosophy – and led a series of school reforms that changed the course of Chinese history.

Tao Xingzhi
HIS NAME STILL SPEAKS VOLUMES Tao Xingzhi, for whom the Center is to be renamed, studied at TC under John Dewey and returned home to reshape China's education system. 

Tao was perhaps the greatest of “the 42” – an extraordinary group of Chinese TC alumni who reshaped their nation’s education system for the modern era. Now, a century later, there will be a postscript: TC’s Center on Chinese Education, founded and directed by education economist Mun Tsang, will be renamed the Tao Xingzhi Center on Chinese Education. The effort, which has included a visit to TC by Tao’s granddaughter, will hinge on a $3 million fundraising drive by the China-America Friendship Association to ensure continuation of the Center’s work.

The drive to rename TC's Center on Chinese Education for Tao Xingzhi marks "a new chapter in one of the world's most fruitful education partnerships." —TC President Susan Fuhrman

Of course, there have been more than a few other chapters in the TC-China story since Tao’s student days. TC faculty members have helped shape a community college system that is helping to serve China’s vast population of migrant workers; influenced the direction of art and music education; advised the government on educating China’s diverse population of minorities; and created cultural and academic exchanges between the faculty and students at institutions in both countries.

Yet no contribution has made more of an impact than the work of Tsang and his Center. It was Tsang who, at a World Bank conference in 1993, called attention to how the decentralization of China’s economy had pushed the burden of funding public education onto local districts – and how, as a result, many poorer rural districts were passing that cost onto families who couldn’t pay it and simply kept these children home.

Tsang created the Center on Chinese Education in 2000 and subsequently mounted a successful pilot project in Yunnan Province that helped to convince the Chinese government to provide additional funding to poor areas that has enabled more than 25 million children to go to school.

Ting Zhou
FOLLOWING IN HIS FOOTSTEPS Ting ("Crystal") Zhou, Secretary General of the China-America Friendship Association, will attend TC this fall as a doctoral student. 

Eighteen months ago, Tsang mentioned to Cheng Davis, Special Advisor to TC President Susan Fuhrman on China, that he wanted to ensure continuation of the Center after his retirement. Soon Davis, working with TC’s Department of Development and External Affairs, arranged for Tsang to meet with a delegation led by Yunfei “Frank” Xiao, Executive Chairman of the China-America Friendship Association, that also included Tao’s granddaughter, Tao Zheng (herself a teacher).

"Tao was influenced by Dewey, but he also developed solutions that were uniquely appropriate to China's needs." —Yunfei Xiao, Chairman, China America Friendship Association

At an agreement signing held in the College’s Gottesman Libraries in early August, TC President Susan Fuhrman pronounced “a new chapter in one of the world’s most fruitful education partnerships.” Addressing an audience that included reporters from several leading Chinese publications, Fuhrman said that where once TC talked about “the 42,” the College now claims thousands of distinguished alumni in China.” Dewey considered China “the country nearest to his heart other than his own,” Fuhrman added.

For his part, Xiao saluted TC as a place that not only educated Tao Xingzhi but subsequently helped transmit his ideas to a following that now numbers in the hundreds of millions.

“Tao was influenced by Dewey, but he also developed solutions that were uniquely appropriate to address China’s needs,” he said. “Only three percent of the population could read at that time. The prevailing view was that that didn’t need to change because so many people in China were farmers, but Tao knew that we needed a more literate population to enter the industrial era. He made schools the center of society.”  

"I'm particularly happy about this agreement, not because I regard the Center as my legacy, but because I see it as an asset to both TC and China." —Mun Tsang, TC Professor of Economics and Education

TC’s Center on Chinese Education has furthered that approach, he said, and helped improve Sino-American relations through ongoing cultural exchange.

Ting (“Crystal”) Zhao, the Association’s General Secretary, told the audience that she will be enrolling at TC in the fall as a doctoral student to learn more about how China continues to develop its education system based on Tao’s ideas.

 But it was Tsang who put the exclamation point on the proceedings.

“I joined TC’s faculty 18 years ago, attracted by the College’s reputation in education and its special strength in international and comparative education,” he said. “I came with the major objective of helping to rebuild, improve and sustain the TC-China relationship. I’m particularly happy about this new agreement, not because I regard the Center as my legacy, but because I see it as an asset to both to TC and China. I believe it’s essential that the Center’s work continue – and now I know that it will.” – Joe Levine

Published Thursday, Aug. 11, 2016

 

Published Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2016

A Legend Lends His Name: TC’s Center on Chinese Education will be renamed for Tao Xingzhi, China’s great education reformer

JOINING FORCES TC President Susan Fuhrman and China-America Friendship Association Executive Chairman Yunfei Xiao, both seated, sign an agreement to work toward renaming the College's Center on Chinese Education. Looking on (from left): Ting Zhao, the Association's Secretary General; Suzanne Murphy, TC's Vice President for Development & External Affairs; Professor Mun Tsang, founding Director of the soon-to-be-renamed Center; and Cheng Davis, Special Advisor to President Fuhrman.

The story is legend, both at Teachers College and in China: In 1915, a young man named Tao Sing Wen came to TC to study with John Dewey, Paul Monroe and William Heard Kilpatrick. Upon returning home to China, he changed his name to Tao Xingzhi, which means “doing, then knowing” – a direct reference to Dewey’s philosophy – and led a series of school reforms that changed the course of Chinese history.

Tao Xingzhi
HIS NAME STILL SPEAKS VOLUMES Tao Xingzhi, for whom the Center is to be renamed, studied at TC under John Dewey and returned home to reshape China's education system. 

Tao was perhaps the greatest of “the 42” – an extraordinary group of Chinese TC alumni who reshaped their nation’s education system for the modern era. Now, a century later, there will be a postscript: TC’s Center on Chinese Education, founded and directed by education economist Mun Tsang, will be renamed the Tao Xingzhi Center on Chinese Education. The effort, which has included a visit to TC by Tao’s granddaughter, will hinge on a $3 million fundraising drive by the China-America Friendship Association to ensure continuation of the Center’s work.

The drive to rename TC's Center on Chinese Education for Tao Xingzhi marks "a new chapter in one of the world's most fruitful education partnerships." —TC President Susan Fuhrman

Of course, there have been more than a few other chapters in the TC-China story since Tao’s student days. TC faculty members have helped shape a community college system that is helping to serve China’s vast population of migrant workers; influenced the direction of art and music education; advised the government on educating China’s diverse population of minorities; and created cultural and academic exchanges between the faculty and students at institutions in both countries.

Yet no contribution has made more of an impact than the work of Tsang and his Center. It was Tsang who, at a World Bank conference in 1993, called attention to how the decentralization of China’s economy had pushed the burden of funding public education onto local districts – and how, as a result, many poorer rural districts were passing that cost onto families who couldn’t pay it and simply kept these children home.

Tsang created the Center on Chinese Education in 2000 and subsequently mounted a successful pilot project in Yunnan Province that helped to convince the Chinese government to provide additional funding to poor areas that has enabled more than 25 million children to go to school.

Ting Zhou
FOLLOWING IN HIS FOOTSTEPS Ting ("Crystal") Zhou, Secretary General of the China-America Friendship Association, will attend TC this fall as a doctoral student. 

Eighteen months ago, Tsang mentioned to Cheng Davis, Special Advisor to TC President Susan Fuhrman on China, that he wanted to ensure continuation of the Center after his retirement. Soon Davis, working with TC’s Department of Development and External Affairs, arranged for Tsang to meet with a delegation led by Yunfei “Frank” Xiao, Executive Chairman of the China-America Friendship Association, that also included Tao’s granddaughter, Tao Zheng (herself a teacher).

"Tao was influenced by Dewey, but he also developed solutions that were uniquely appropriate to China's needs." —Yunfei Xiao, Chairman, China America Friendship Association

At an agreement signing held in the College’s Gottesman Libraries in early August, TC President Susan Fuhrman pronounced “a new chapter in one of the world’s most fruitful education partnerships.” Addressing an audience that included reporters from several leading Chinese publications, Fuhrman said that where once TC talked about “the 42,” the College now claims thousands of distinguished alumni in China.” Dewey considered China “the country nearest to his heart other than his own,” Fuhrman added.

For his part, Xiao saluted TC as a place that not only educated Tao Xingzhi but subsequently helped transmit his ideas to a following that now numbers in the hundreds of millions.

“Tao was influenced by Dewey, but he also developed solutions that were uniquely appropriate to address China’s needs,” he said. “Only three percent of the population could read at that time. The prevailing view was that that didn’t need to change because so many people in China were farmers, but Tao knew that we needed a more literate population to enter the industrial era. He made schools the center of society.”  

"I'm particularly happy about this agreement, not because I regard the Center as my legacy, but because I see it as an asset to both TC and China." —Mun Tsang, TC Professor of Economics and Education

TC’s Center on Chinese Education has furthered that approach, he said, and helped improve Sino-American relations through ongoing cultural exchange.

Ting (“Crystal”) Zhao, the Association’s General Secretary, told the audience that she will be enrolling at TC in the fall as a doctoral student to learn more about how China continues to develop its education system based on Tao’s ideas.

 But it was Tsang who put the exclamation point on the proceedings.

“I joined TC’s faculty 18 years ago, attracted by the College’s reputation in education and its special strength in international and comparative education,” he said. “I came with the major objective of helping to rebuild, improve and sustain the TC-China relationship. I’m particularly happy about this new agreement, not because I regard the Center as my legacy, but because I see it as an asset to both to TC and China. I believe it’s essential that the Center’s work continue – and now I know that it will.” – Joe Levine

Published Thursday, Aug. 11, 2016

 

How This Gift Connects The Dots
 
Scholarships & Fellowships
 
Faculty & Programs
 
Campus & Technology
 
Financial Flexibility
 
Engage TC Alumni & Friends