Jiang Menglin

The famous educator Jiang Menglin (1886-1964), also known by his courtesy name (zi) Zhaoxian and pseudonym (hao) Menglin, was formerly named Mengxiong. He was born in Yuyao, Zhejiang Province. Mengxiong started his student life in an old-style private school when he was six years old. At the age of twelve, he went to Shaoxing Chinese and Western School. In 1899, he moved to Shanghai with his family and entered a Catholic school to learn English. Because of the Boxer Uprising in 1900, the whole family moved back to Yuyao. Mengxiong learnt English and arithmetic in a school in the downtown. In 1901, he went to a church school in Hangzhou and kept on learning English, but later all the students left this school due to students’ strikes. Mengxiong was enrolled by Zhejiang Provincial Higher School (formerly known as Qiushi College) and changed his name into Menglin in 1902. In 1903, Jiang Menglin went back to Shaoxing and participated in the county-level test of that year; he was admitted to Yuyao County School and continued his learning career. He got into Shanghai Nanyang Public School in 1904. In 1908, he went to the United States and studied in the College of Agriculture of the University of California at his own expense in the following year. Later, he transferred into the College of Social Sciences and majored in education; at the same time, he wrote for the revolutionary mouthpiece Datong Daily. In 1912, Jiang Menglin graduated from the University of California with his Bachelor’s degree. It was not long before he entered into the Institute of Columbia University in New York. He studied the science of education there under the guidance of Professor Dewey, and in 1917 he earned his PhD. Within the same year, he returned home; he acted as an editor in the Commercial Press in Shanghai and held a concurrent post as a director of Jiangsu Provincial Education Commission. In 1918, Jiang Menglin resigned from the Commercial Press, and soon founded the monthly magazine New Education. After the May Fourth Movement in 1919, he presided over administrative affairs of Peking University on behalf of Cai Yuanpei. In the same year, Cai Yuanpei resumed his post and Jiang Menglin was hired as a professor of the Faculty of Education and the director in charge of general affairs. He was appointed as a trustee of National Southeast University and a vice president of the Western Returned Scholars Association in 1921. In 1923, he served as the acting president of Peking University. Jiang Menglin took up the post of the director of Zhejiang Provincial Department of Education in 1927, and soon he was assigned as the president of The Third Zhongshan University, which was renamed Zhejiang University in the following year. In 1928, he was designated as the president of the University Council. It was not long before the National Government changed the University Council to the Ministry of Education; Jiang Menglin then served as the Minister of Education as well as the president of Zhejiang University at the same time. He was elected as a vice chairman of the “Board of Directors of the Education and Culture Foundation of China” in 1929. In 1930, he resigned from the minister of education but was nominated as the president of Peking University within a short time. In 1937, the Chinese People’s War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression broke out in a full scale; Peking University, Tsinghua University and Nankai University migrated to Changsha and National Changsha Temporary University was established. Jiang Menglin acted as a member of the Standing Committee of the University Preparatory Committee. In 1938, this temporary university relocated in Kunming; Jiang Menglin, together with Mei Yiqi, Zhang Boling and some other scholars, set up the Standing Committee again to deal with school affairs. In 1945, he worked in the Executive Yuan (Department) as the secretary general; shortly afterwards, Hu Shi became the president of Peking University as Jiang Menglin’s successor. Later, he had successively served as a member of the National Government, and a member and the director of the Joint Committee on Rural Reconstruction. He went to Taiwan in 1950 to carry out rural rehabilitation work, improve peasants’ living standards, increase peasants’ welfare, advocate the "4-H Education" (Head, Heart, Hands and Health), and promote birth-control policies. In 1958, Jiang Menglin concurrently served as the chairman of the Construction Committee of Shimen Reservoir in Taiwan; in the same year, he was elected as the first prize winner in the Government Service of the Ramon Magsaysay Award, organized by the Philippine Government. He died on June 19, 1964, at the age of seventy-eight.


Jiang Menglin had been engaged in the cause of education for many years and made a significant contribution to the development of modern Chinese education as well as education theory research. In his PhD thesis A Study in Chinese Principles of Education, Jiang Menglin used modern methods to analyze these educational principles throughout Chinese history and compared them with the same cases in Western culture. Later, in his articles published in the press, he put forward his own education propositions. He believed that the education in the twentieth century was scientific education; the long-term aim of education was to “take in the quintessence of Chinese culture, assimilate the spirit of modern world, set standards, and track down problems” to cultivate “scientific spirit” and “social consciousness”. In educational administration, Jiang Menglin advocated the implementation of compulsory education, vocational education and remedial education, and he believed that specialized education and scout education should be equally valued with higher education. As for education content, Jiang Menglin encouraged the development of individuality, focused on aesthetic and physical education, paid attention to the transmission of scientific knowledge, vocational cultivation and citizenship training, and promoted populist democracy and the spirit of independent and perseverance. He agreed that students should have healthy mentality and ability of precise and clear thinking. It was also important to develop their personality and train professionals.


Jiang Menglin’s main works include Western Trend (his English autobiography and was translated into Chinese later), Writings of Menglin, On Learning, Cultural Exchanges and the Evolution of Ideas, New Trend, and so on. His main papers include A Study in Chinese Principles of Education (PhD thesis), Higher Academic Research is the Foundation of Education, The Thought and Education in the Transitional Era, The Relationship between Individual Value and Education, The Education Focus of China after the Second World War, The Life-Changing Attitudes, Peace and Education, The Old and the New and Their Reconciliation, and so on.


There are graphic and textual materials about Jiang Menglin in "Renowned Professors of Peking University".