Teacher and pupils
Photo Credit: VCG

The Biggest Teacher’s Pets in Chinese History

Four stories of ancient Chinese pupils who went to great lengths to honor their teachers

The traditional Mid-Autumn Festival may be China’s biggest holiday in the month of September, but this year, it coincides with another: Teachers’ Day, a “festival” established in 1985 and observed every September 10 to honor educators.

Though the observance itself is a modern tradition, China actually has a long history of respecting teachers. In Discourses of the States (《国语》), a historical book believed to be the work of historian Zuo Qiuming (左丘明) in the Spring and Autumn Period (770 — 476 BCE), a folk saying was recorded which states: “One should serve their father, their teacher, and their monarch until death. Because their father gave life to them, their teacher educated them, and their monarch provided food for them (民生于三,事之如一。父生之,师教之,君食之).” Similarly, Qing dynasty scholar Luo Zhenyu (罗振玉) wrote: “Students should treat their teacher with the same respect as they treat their father…even if someone just teaches you for one day, you should respect him like your father all your life (弟子事师, 敬同于父……一日为师, 终身为父).”

Some students, though, took respecting teachers to another level—perhaps even a level too far. Here are a few stories of the biggest teacher’s pets in Chinese history:

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author Sun Jiahui (孙佳慧)

Sun Jiahui is a freelance writer and former editor at The World of Chinese. She writes about Chinese language, society and culture, and is especially passionate about sharing stories of China's ancient past with a wider audience. She has been writing for TWOC for over six years, and pens the Choice Chengyu column.

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