Confucius can certainly never be accused of sugarcoating the difficulties that any would-be student would face if he chose to follow his path. He promises no seven-step plan to guaranteed success or shortcut to fortune and fame. Continue reading Analects Book 4: on learning
Confucius is almost universally (and unfairly) blamed for the style of rote-learning that has plagued Chinese education for centuries. In reality, however, he advocated a balanced and intellectually-rigorous approach to learning that remains highly relevant even today. Continue reading Analects Book 2: more on learning
Although this may come as a surprise to people who have experienced or even just heard about the rigors of China’s so-called “Confucian” education system, Confucius himself believed that learning should involve much more than simply imbibing and regurgitating the ancient classics. Rather, it should be focused on the practical application of the timeless principles found in them to your daily life so that you can make a positive contribution to your family, your community, and ultimately the whole society you live in. Continue reading Analects Book 1: on learning
Zixia said: “When an official has time to spare from his duties, he should study. When a student has time to spare from his studies, he should undertake official duties.”
The meaning of this passage isn’t entirely clear. The key message appears to be that learning and officialdom are inextricably linked. To be a truly excellent official, you need to continue learning. To be a truly excellent student, you need to serve as an official in order to practice the principles you have learned. Continue reading Lifelong learning
Confucius said: “When there is education, there are no distinctions.”
This passage literally means: have>teach(ing)>no>types/ distinctions. Continue reading Education for all!
Confucius said: “Do I possess knowledge? No, I don’t. Even when a humble peasant asks me a question, my mind goes blank; but I keep on hammering away at the two sides of the question until I work out the answer.”
It’s difficult to determine the exact meaning of this passage without any additional context. Presumably Confucius is saying that you should give careful thought to any question that someone poses to you, no matter how lowly their social station. Such an interpretation would fit in with the description of him in Chapter IV of Book 9: “Confucius avoided four things: preconceptions, arbitrariness, stubbornness, and egoism.” Continue reading Keep on hammering away
The Grand Steward asked Zigong: “Your master is a true sage, isn’t he? He is skilled in so many things.” Zigong replied: “Heaven indeed made him a sage, but he also happens to have many different skills.” When he heard of this, Confucius said: “What does the Grand Steward know about me? In my youth, I was poor; so I had to learn a number of lowly skills. Does a leader need to have so many different skills? No, he does not.”
As a young man, Confucius had to take on a number of minor clerical and book keeping posts in order to support his family. Continue reading Real world experience
Confucius said: “Learn as if you will never be able to catch up and as if you are afraid you’ll lose what you’ve already gained.”
You certainly can’t fault Confucius for his sense of urgency. This was the high level of commitment that he demanded not just of his students but also himself.