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School teacher Yuan Tengfei brings history vividly to life

2009-09-07 16:29 BJT

An ordinary junior high school history teacher with a flat-top haircut suddenly became an extremely popular figure of China: videos of his history lectures in a Beijing school were uploaded to the Internet, and within several months they were watched by over 10 million times. People call him the "greatest history teacher in history." When he taught the “Vicissitudes of the Two Song Dynasties,” at CCTV's “Lecture Room,” the audience rating of the program set a new record. His name is Yuan Tengfei, a researcher of the history lesson research team at Haidian Teachers Training College. His “fans” said, “What a pity that I did not have such a history teacher in my junior high school life.”

Mr. Yuan at the CCTV "Lecture Room"

Mr. Yuan at the CCTV "Lecture Room"

“Humor” is the characteristic of Yuan’s lectures

Yuan described Napoleon as “quite a manly guy;” he compared the “Pearl Harbor Incident” to “a frog swallowing an elephant;” he said the biggest role of the Italian troops in the World War Two was they added some comedic elements to the cruel war; he told the students in Grade Three of high schools that some knowledge points must be mastered firmly so “even when they were hit by a train, they could still remember them.” Because of these vivid words, the students always burst into laughter in his classes, and his history class has become the lesson that his students enjoy the most.

While talking about the Pearl Harbor Incident during the World War Two, Yuan said, “Americans did not want to fight. German was fighting in Europe and Japan was fighting in Asia, but Americans thought, ‘it is none of my business.’ This time, however, bombs were dropped in their backyard. Who did it? The Japanese! The Americans were attacked by Japanese. What a shame it is! If a man was beaten by a five-year-old boy, how can he face his acquaintances? How can he continue hanging around in his familiar territory? So, Americans fought back.” If students do not understand the concept of “general cyclopedia,” he will explain like this, “The ‘Completed Collection of Graphs and Writings of Ancient and Modern Times’ compiled in Qing Dynasty belongs to the ‘general cyclopedia.’ What does ‘general cyclopedia’ mean? Today’s websites just constitute a general cyclopedia. If I want to know about the Emperor Kangxi, I can go ‘Google’ him on the Internet. Then, I will be able to find all the information about him, and maybe even information I wasn’t looking for, such as the size of his feet, his height, and his other body measurements.”

Below his videos on the Internet, there are hundreds of comments and messages left by netizens. In the “Yuan Tengfei” room on Baidu Website, some enthusiastic fans even wrote down transcriptions of his lecture videos and posted them on the Internet.