Tag Archives: Confucius on education

Analects of Confucius Book 7: Confucius on teaching

Confucius on teaching

At a time when education was limited to members of the elite who could afford to pay for it, Confucius was genuinely radical in his willingness to teach anyone who wanted to learn from him no matter what social background he came from.

In 7.7, he declares: “I have never refused to teach anyone who has asked me to, even if they were too poor to offer no more than a token offering of a bundle of dried meat for their tuition.” In 7.28, he reprimands his followers who were reluctant to let a boy from Hu Village, the people of which were notorious for their orneriness, to approach him. “Why be so hard on him? If people make the effort to improve themselves, we should approve of their progress and ignore their previous missteps.” Continue reading Analects of Confucius Book 7: Confucius on teaching

Leadership lessons from Confucius: the same path?

same path

子曰:「可與共學,未可與適道;可與適道,未可與立;可與立,未可與權。
Confucius said: “Those who learn together won’t necessarily take the same path; those who take the same path won’t necessarily stand together; those who stand together won’t necessarily exercise their judgment in the same manner.”

Education is about providing people with the intellectual tools they need to make good decisions in a complex and dynamic world. It’s not about attempting to ensure that everyone conforms to a certain set of pre-approved values. Even if you attempt to force everybody to sing from the same hymn book, their opinions will naturally diverge based on their own experiences of the world. There is no universal truth that applies to everything. There is no single right answer for resolving every problem. Life is far too nuanced and complex for that. Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: the same path?

Leadership lessons from Confucius: it’s your life

it's your life

子曰:「三年學,不至於穀,不易得也。」
Confucius said: “Someone willing to study for three years without taking up an official position is hard to find.”

Not everyone has the privilege of being able to spend three or four years at college. If you’re lucky enough to attend one, make the most of your time there. It’s one of the rare occasions in your life that you’ll have the opportunity to explore your true interests before you have to enter the world of work. Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: it’s your life

Analects of Confucius Book 7: new English translation

Read this new English translation of the Analects of Confucius Book 7 to learn more about the teachings of China’s most famous philosopher. It provides a vivid portrait of the sage’s personality and motivations, as well as his opinions on various followers and other contemporary and historical figures.

Chapter 1
子曰:「述而不作,信而好古,竊比於我老彭。」
Confucius said: “I transmit but I don’t create. I am faithful to and love the past. In this respect, I dare to compare myself with Old Peng.”
Continue reading Analects of Confucius Book 7: new English translation

Leadership lessons from Confucius: innate knowledge

innate knowledge

子曰:「我非生而知之者,好古,敏以求之者也。」
Confucius said: “I wasn’t born with innate knowledge. I simply love the past and am assiduous in seeking it there.” (1) (2) (3) (4)

Even if you have all the talent in the world, it isn’t worth anything unless you’re willing to put your nose to the grindstone and set to work. Of course, it helps to have family members around to encourage and guide you, as Confucius’s mother and grandfather are reputed to have done after his father died when Confucius was just three years old, but that can only take you so far. In the end, it’s up to you to put in the time and effort required to be successful. Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: innate knowledge

Leadership lessons from Confucius: a bundle of dried meat

bundle of dried meat

子曰:「自行束修以上,吾未嘗無誨焉。」
Confucius said: “I have never refused to teach anyone who has asked me to, even if they were too poor to offer no more than a token offering of a bundle of dried meat for their tuition.” (1)

It’s very rare to find a mentor who is willing to go beyond the bounds of duty and devote their personal time and energy to help you learn and grow. Treasure the opportunity if you are fortunate enough to be offered it and pay it back by working as hard as you can to justify your mentor’s faith in you. Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: a bundle of dried meat

Leadership lessons from Confucius: a delicate balancing act

delicate balancing act

子曰:「中人以上,可以語上也;中人以下,不可以語上也。」
Confucius said: “You can discuss advanced topics with people of above-average intelligence; but it’s pointless to discuss them with people of below-average intelligence.”

Teaching a class of thirty students is a delicate balancing act. Pitch a subject too high and you risk leaving most of them behind. Pitch a subject too low and you risk boring a similar number of them out of their minds. It’s next-to-impossible to get your lesson just right. Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: a delicate balancing act

leadership Lessons from Confucius: learning without thinking

learning without thinking

子曰:「學而不思則罔,思而不學則殆。」
Confucius said: “Learning without thinking leads to perplexity. Thinking without learning leads to trouble.”

We live at a time when knowledge has never been more abundant or accessible to everyone. With a few taps on the screen of our phone or a few clicks of our mouse, we can find out just about any information that we require. Continue reading leadership Lessons from Confucius: learning without thinking

Leadership lessons of Confucius: not a vessel

not a mere receptacle

子曰:「君子不器。」
Confucius said: “A leader isn’t a vessel.”

How can I add value? This is the key question that you need to repeatedly ask yourself as you go about your daily work. As Confucius points out in this well-known passage, a leader is much more than a vessel such as a cooking pot in the kitchen or a receptacle on an altar. Your role is not to passively absorb information but to actively sift and share it with the members of your team so that they can develop their abilities more effectively. Continue reading Leadership lessons of Confucius: not a vessel

Education, education, education

子適衛,冉有僕。子曰:「庶矣哉!」冉有曰:「既庶矣,又何加焉?」曰:「富之。」曰:「既富矣,又何加焉?」曰:「教之。」
When Confucius was traveling to Wei, Ran Qiu was driving his carriage. Confucius said: “There are so many people!” Ran Qiu said: “When there are so many people, what should be done next?” “Enrich them. “When they are rich, what should be done next?” “Educate them.”

Confucius could just as easily be talking about modern-day China here rather than the ancient state of the Wei. The scale may be exponentially different, but the challenges and the steps needed to overcome them remain the same. Continue reading Education, education, education