Analects of Confucius and Western Education

As mentioned before, I attended a top ranking high school in America.

I can tell you that the most important lesson I learned was how to BS my way through any test or essay.

However, I remember on my final year in high school one of the most important lessons I learned that I was never taught in at school.

I memorized them and I think of them every day.

They’re not from an American textbook or curriculum.

These words are from the Analects of Confucius.

學而不思則罔 (학이불사즉망)

思而不學則殆 (사이불학즉태)

The first statement says, “If you learn, but do not think, you will not gain anything.”

The second statement says, “If you think, but do not learn, the result will be dangerous.”

I became puzzled by these words. Confucius’ words are taught to elementary school students in Eastern education.

Why was I never taught this when I was in elementary school?

The first statement says it all about the Western education system.

We memorize constantly without thinking. All we do is memorize. We do not sit and think about ‘why’.

If we do think about ‘why’, we simply say to ourselves, “This is what I need for a successful future.”

That’s all we think about. Happiness in the future.

I wish we thought more…. In Western education, we do not think much at all, so the second statement does not even apply!

We have excess in learning, not in thinking.

To me, if you are learning without thinking, not only will you not gain anything, but you will also slowly lose the ability to think.

Western universities and high schools may exclaim proudly that they’re teaching you how to think.

But there is no way to teach someone how to think.

It’s intuitive! It simply only needs to be encouraged.

The youth will be the leaders of the next generation. Will they be prepared?


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