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《Journal of Zhejiang University(Humanities and Social Sciences)》 2007-03
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On the Origin and Development of the Title Laoshi (Teacher)

TIAN Zheng-ping, ZHANG Xiao-qian(Department of Education, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou 310028, China)  
The Chinese term Laoshi (teacher), as a title for educators, has experienced a long-time development. In the Confucian literature before the Tang and Song Dynasties (before 618 A.D.), Laoshi corresponded to Daru, Suoru, meaning ″great man of learning″. Compared with Laoshi in modern Chinese, there exists a big difference in grammar between them. In ancient literature, Lao has its real meaning, while in modern Chinese, Lao carries no real meaning, only a prefix. In the Tang and Song Dynasties, Laoshi, as a religious term either in Taoism or Buddhism, usually referred to preachers instead of worldly educators. After the Reign of Jiajing in the Ming Dynasty, influenced by the imperial examination system, Laoshi evolved into an honorable title used by the disciples on their masters. Within the next 300 or 400 years, Laoshi gradually changed into an honorable title used by common students to refer to their teachers. In the 20th century, with the surging of the modern schools and the abolition of the imperial examination system, the title Laoshi finally lost its connection with the imperial examination system. It is after the founding of the People’s Republic of China that Laoshi has really become a popular honorable title for common educators. Nowadays, Laoshi as a title for educators embodies rich traditional cultural connotations. It not only displays the professional identity of the teachers properly, but expresses the esteem and expectation of the society towards teachers’ morality and integrity.
【CateGory Index】: H141
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