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 the texts 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: Confucius on learning
The Master said: “A leader eats without filling his stomach; he chooses a home without demanding comfort; he is diligent in his work and cautious in his speech; and he keeps the company of others who possess the way to make sure that he stays on the right path. This is what it means to truly love learning.” (1)
Leadership requires focusing your energy on cultivating the self rather than pursuing the material trappings of success. This means working hard, being careful about what you say, and spending your time with people who can help you improve through the example they set and the knowledge they share with you. Continue reading Leadership Lessons from Confucius: love learning
Zixia said: “If a man values character over beauty, devotes himself to serving his parents, dedicates his life to his ruler, and is true to his word with his friends, I’ll insist he’s learned even if others think otherwise.” (1)
Actions speak louder than words. As a leader you should focus on people who go about their daily work with quiet determination rather than those who attempt to grab your attention by saying all the right words and pushing themselves to the center stage by grabbing all the highest-profile assignments.
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
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