The Beijing Normal University (BNU) Law School serves as a paragon of leapfrog development. Today, BNU Law School has joined forces with the College for Criminal Law Science. Moreover, one doctoral program of first-level discipline (law) and two legal talents training bases (domestic and abroad) contribute to the integrative and characterized development of Beijing Normal University. Under fierce competition, BNU Law School has carved a place for itself in Chinese legal academia and gained influence both nationally and internationally at a fast pace. In general, those developments can be attributed to various factors, including wise policy-making within the school, centennial BNU traditions, a wide social support and faculty members’ diligent work, among others. Nevertheless, the profound meaning of the name “Beijing Normal University” should not be ignored. In English, the Chinese name “北京师范大学” is translated as “Beijing Normal University”. Etymologically, “Normal” is derived from the French word “Normale” and the Latin word “Norma”. “Ecole Normale” was first translated into Japanese and written using the Chinese characters “师范学校”, which implies that such a school is not only a place to gain knowledge and skills, but also a place to learn rules or norms; only those with a wealth of knowledge and moral integrity can take the great responsibility of teaching and educating people. Therefore, “Learn, to instruct others. Act, to serve as an example to all” was adopted as the motto of Beijing Normal University. However, the nature of teaching norms (or, in Chinese, “师范”) is not limited to teaching and education. Otherwise, it is insufficient to train to be a teacher. Of greater value is to set an example in good behavior for society. Such an interpretation not only complies with the original meaning of the Latin word “Norma” (i.e., a ruler in the hand of the carpenter), but also stays in harmony with the ancient Chinese saying, “无规矩不成方圆” (in English, “nothing can be accomplished without norms or standards”).
Along this line, it is with forethought rather than coincidence that Beijing Normal University has founded and further developed the discipline of law. It is the nature of teaching norms that determines the evolution and progress of BNU’s legal education. Teaching without norms is not teaching norms. Once legal science is combined with the spirit of teaching norms, the long-standing value of law and the special significance of modern normal education will be highlighted and promoted. By comprehensively advancing the rules of law, today’s society respects the laws, learns the laws, observes the laws and uses the laws. Consequently, the value and significance of teaching norms is becoming even more relevant. This in turn sets higher standards for the staff and students of BNU Law School: on one hand, to be a teacher is not only to impart knowledge, but also to practice morality and strive to become a “teacher with four haves” (that is, having ideals and beliefs, moral sentiments, solid knowledge and a benevolent heart). On the other hand, a student must not only master general knowledge about teaching and learning, but also the social norms of law; not only behave as a normal citizen, but also as a role model; not only observe both morality and law, but also be conscientious in conduct. Only by focusing on teaching and norms can we perfect teaching norms and satisfy the requirements of BNU’s motto. Only by internalizing the spirit of BNU Law School (that is, “pursue moral education, promote the rule of law") can we achieve faster and better development.
Dean LU Jianping
Beijing Normal University Law School