A challenge faced by educators is how to initiate learners into the culture of one’s community without indoctrinating them. This chapter examines the problem of indoctrination in the context of Confucian education. Indoctrination occurs when a person’s capacity to rationally justify one’s beliefs, consider alternatives and make autonomous choices in life is paralysed. It is argued that indoctrination may be avoided when the initiation into the culture (wen) of the Zhou dynasty is accompanied by xue (learning) and si (reflection). The chapter explains how Confucius’ conception of reflective learning aims to enhance rather than handicap the learner’s capacity to formulate and substantiate one’s beliefs, evaluate available options and exercise agency in life. The desired outcome is a reflective and autonomous agent who internalises and demonstrates the quality of humanity (ren) through normative behaviours (li). The chapter also explores the possibility of Confucian indoctrination when the critical and moral dimensions of reflective learning are marginalised or jettisoned.


Confucius Indoctrination Reflective learning 


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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Nanyang Technological University National Institute of EducationSingaporeSingapore

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