Bissell's Blog

Happy Teacher’s Day 2023 & Confucius’s 2,574th Birthday!

Second Grade Chinese and English Teachers Co-teaching Math
Second Grade Chinese and English Teachers Co-teaching Math

We’re celebrating CAIS faculty (such as our second grade team shown above co-teaching math in Chinese and English) on the birthday of the great teacher, Confucius. In honor of this two-part holiday, we continue our tradition of a “word duet” of thoughtful pieces from Head of School Jeff Bissell and Chinese Program Director Cindy Chiang.

Confucius—A Visionary Education Pioneer

By Chinese Program Director Cindy Chiang

This month presents two important holidays in Chinese tradition. We kicked off the Mid-Autumn Festival celebration at the 888 Campus last weekend and are looking forward to the official observance of that holiday on September 29. On September 28, we recognize another culturally meaningful holiday that is celebrated in Taiwan—Teacher’s Day 教师节 (jiào shī jié) which is also Confucius’s Birthday 孔子诞辰 (kǒng zǐ dàn chén). (Teacher’s Day is celebrated separately on September 10 in mainland China.) This is a day to honor our conscientioushardworking
professional, and talented CAIS teachers and staff!

Confucius, the most influential teacher, sage, thinker and philosopher in China, has an extraordinary impact on East Asian culture and society. Anyone who grew up in Taiwan or China can relate the progressive learning about Confucius and Confucianism in school and has similar experiences of celebrating this day by expressing their great appreciation to all their teachers and educators. At CAIS, we are inspired by Confucius’s Birthday to give thanks for our wonderful faculty and to reflect on his philosophy about education, which still resonates today.

His wisdom and dictums regarding education were recorded in TheAnalects, a collection of short literary or philosophical extracts. Last year, after discussing some excerpts from the The Analects with teachers in each division, we were struck by how, even though rooted in ancient times, Confucius’s philosophy continues to have a deep connection to the modern world. Confucius’s dictums, interestingly, do mirror our understanding of the benefits of immersion education today as much as how these benefits were instilled in his teaching in the past.

Confucius sought not only to give his students knowledge, but also to guide them to develop their skills and whole being, just as we help students cultivate their CognitionCharacter and Cultural Competence, which we call the CAIS Immersion Bonus 中美沉浸额外优势.

These three bonuses are captured in Confucius’s teachings as follows:

  • Cognition 认知能力优势
    “Earnest inquiry with an ability to think and reason” (切问近思) —《论语子张》
    CAIS prepares our students to be global citizens for the world as they think critically and engage in metacognition to thoughtfully consider how they themselves are learning.
  • Character 人格品质优势
    “One who helps others establish what he himself wishes to establish” (立己达人) —《论语 雍也》CAIS is dedicated to instill our Core Values to delve into deep learning in each of our students so they will be endowed with our school mission and the strategic vision.
  • Cultural Competence 跨文化能力优势
    “Honor men of virtue and talent” (尊贤容众) —《论语子张》
    CAIS teaches our students to be empathetic, compassionate, and respectful, which echoes Confucius’s belief in always treating others with humaneness.

It’s affirming to see how Confucius’s ancient educational philosophies are embodied at CAIS, a beacon of Mandarin immersion education in the nation. In closing, please join us on this Confucius’s Birthday in thanking and honoring our teachers and staff who have gone above and beyond since the beginning of the school year. We are very grateful for what they are contributing to the school and for having such a significant impact on our students.

Confucius’s 2,574th Birthday

By Head of School Jeff Bissell

Thursday, September 28, is recognized as Confucius’s 2,574th birthday. If you ask me, I’d say China’s first sage has aged pretty well. Since my graduate school days when I first started wading through the terse prose of The Analects of Confucius or《论语》Lún yǔ, I’ve always been able to find a contemporary relevance to his wisdom. So each year, I mark his birthday by sending something about Confucius to the CAIS community that reflects how timely he remains.

It is pretty safe to say that we live in a time of great divisiveness. Confucius, or Kǒng Zǐ 孔子 (literally “Master Kong”), lived in a time when China as we now know it was divided into many warring kingdoms, each of which was in battle with the others for survival or supremacy. Confucius’s ideas all grew out of his desire to unite the known world and bring about world peace, píng tīan xìa 平天下. He wandered from place to place (disciples in tow), trying to find a political leader who would listen to him and implement his ideas on unifying China and bringing about a harmonious end to the violence that characterized his age.

Confucius was not alone in this endeavor; the period is known for giving rise to numerous schools of thought, all aimed at a peaceful world order. This flourishing of intellectual activity, born of division, is sometimes referred to as “the hundred schools of thought” zhū zǐ baǐ jīa 诸子百家. It included Daoism (the philosophy, not the religion), Legalism, Moism (which preached “universal love”), Yin Yang, Militarism, and Logicians (who tried to prove that “a white horse is not a horse”). Proponents of different philosophies blanketed China, preaching to the powerful in an attempt to solve the problems of the world as they knew it.

Nowadays, it is heartening to think of this level of civil discourse and rich intellectual diversity, especially as we face a very different landscape in the US. Confucius and his contemporaries can serve as an example for us of the fruitful exchange of ideas and perspectives in a time when we only seem interested in canceling those with whose opinions we disagree.

Happy Birthday, Confucius.


If you are interested in thoughtful writings about modern applications of Confucian thought, here are some suggestions:

Sam Crane, Life, Liberty, and The Pursuit of Dao: Ancient Chinese Thought in Modern American Life

Michael Puett and Christine Gross-Loh, The Path: What Chinese Philosophers Can Teach Us About The Good Life

TR Reid, Confucius Lives Next Door: What Living in the East Teaches Us about Living in the West

Yu Dan, Confucius From the Heart: Ancient Wisdom for Today’s World


Happy Teacher’s Day