Creative inspiration

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子曰:「興於詩,立於禮,成於樂。」
Confucius said: “Find inspiration with the Book of Songs; establish your character with the rites; reach fulfillment with music.”

If governments throughout the world are serious in their view that creativity and innovation will drive the next round of economic growth, they could do a lot worse than follow Confucius’s advice by including more poetry in the early stages of the educational curriculum.

Poetry not only teaches students how to express themselves, but can also give them a lifelong love of language and literature that will not only fuel their creativity but also enable them to articulate their ideas more effectively. The same rule applies to music, which – according to Confucius – represents the apex of human cultural achievement (at least the “healthy” sort).

Language and music, just like society, require rules and conventions to govern them. This is why Confucius includes the rites as the third element of a good education. With the proper grounding in these three subjects, students are equipped to tackle anything.

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