The wisdom of Chinese sage Confucius could soon be taught in schools to broaden pupils' understanding of education, according to the schools minister Jim Knight.
Mr Knight wants to bring the ancient philosophy into English classrooms and to give pupils the chance to learn Mandarin.
"There is a lot we can learn from Chinese culture and Confucius," Mr Knight said.
"Confucius said that alongside knowledge you should have time to think. It is not just about acquisition of knowledge but about respect for the importance of education and the family and that is something I would love to see engendered in out culture as well as it is in China."
Knight announced the new initiative after returning from a fact-finding trip to China to investigate if English schools could draw on the experiences of Chinese academies which produce some of the brightest students in the world.
The Department of Children, School and Families wants to know why children from Chinese backgrounds outperform every other ethnic group in Europe.
Recent statistics showed some 86 per cent of Chinese 11-year-olds reached the required National Curriculum standard in the UK compared with only 80 per cent of white British children. The figures even include recent immigrants who do not have English as a first language.
And success continues into GCSE with 65.8 per cent of Chinese origin pupils obtaining five A* to C grade passes, including maths and English compared with 44 per cent for white British pupils.
During the trip, Knight visited the Confucius Institute in Beijing where he discussed setting up 'Confucius Classrooms' or centres of excellence in teaching of Mandarin and Chinese culture in English state schools," he told The Sunday Times.
"I want to develop Confucius classrooms and further develop Mandarin in comprehensives. There should be an opportunity for everyone to access Mandarin at a local school.
"These are cultures that strongly respect and value the family and very strongly respect education."
Confucius, who himself taught "Study the past if you would define the future," was born in 551BC. He put great emphasis on the importance of study and respect for elders and claimed strong family relationships were the key to a good society. He expressed the principle, "Do not do to others what you do not want done to yourself," 500 years before the birth of Christianity.
He also criticised learning by rote and acquiring knowledge without thinking. His teachings have deeply influenced Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Taiwanese and Vietnamese thought and life. (By Sarah Knapton Last Updated: 3:29PM GMT 22 Feb 2009)