Custom Is The Cultural Origin Of Our Nations

The quote was stated in the meeting of Prof. Cao Huy Thuan with students from Faculty of Literature and Linguistics, VNUHCM-University of Social Sciences and Humanities on 8th April.

In the meeting, responding to Prof. Doan Le Giang – Dean of Faculty of Literature and Linguistics with regard to the roles of custom in forming our national identity, Prof. Cao Huy Thuan asserted that in “Bình Ngô đại cáo” (literally means Great Proclamation upon the Pacification of the Wu) written by Nguyen Trai, custom is referred as the differences of each national character, and used as a synonym as culture.

“Custom is the distinction, the essence of culture. It is the lifestyle, the costumes, festivals, worship, villages, etc. In other words, custom strongly connects to its people’s life, either material or spiritual. So, it becomes the cultural origins of our nation. While some Western countries build and develop their cultures after establishing their political territory, Vietnam has rooted the local culture long before, which best described in the word “phong tục” (custom) from Nguyen Trai’s writings.

In discussion about our education context nowadays, Prof. Cao Huy Thuan said “Somehow we carry out the reform for years, the education receive such downward outcomes”.  He wrote many articles about education reform in Vietnam, and “to talk about the particular solutions to those issues is not adequate in the limited schedule of this meeting.”

“I suppose that the essence of education reform is to train our young generation to be free and creative people” – Prof. Cao Huy Thuan emphasized.

On that point of view, Mr. Phan Thanh Binh – Chairman of the National Assembly Committee of Culture, Education, Youth and Children stated: “The aims of Vietnamese education is to meet three levels, namely: educate our young generation to be a human, then a cultivated man, and a Vietnamese. The education reform has to center the learners, as well as consider our current conditions, then to acquire global knowledge with selection”.

According to researcher Nhat Chieu, the foundations of Vietnam education reform need to be built on three factors: our sights, our resolution and our liberation. In detail, it means “‘Our sights’ refer the learners to have their own views on study, on issues. Without it, the learner cannot be creative. Meanwhile, he has to resolve himself from prejudices. Then, he eventually liberate himself and his knowledge”

In sharing about his writing style, Prof. Cao Huy Thuan revealed that when expressing philosophic conceptions, the writing is also expected to be plain and simple, to create a close connection to both the intellectuals and common people. “I understand philosophy is not only the system of thoughts, but the way of life. We need to live with it, not just say about it. Living with philosophy is a way to be in harmony with the ages we live in.

Prof. Cao Huy Thuan discussed with attendants

Prof. John Schafer and his wife in discussion with attendants

Group photo