Confucius's Teachings in the Analects - Education

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In the Analects, we are given a record of Confucius’ teachings. Through this collection of conversations between the students and their master, one finds the outline of and encouragement toward self-cultivation to the ultimate goal: ren. The path to becoming ren is a life-long yearning for continual education and ultimately, a quest for moral integrity. The root of all goals established by Confucius becomes clearer upon further study, and simply put it is education. Confucius establishes that education must be three things: a privilege that should be available for all who are eager to learn; an education that begins at home in conjunction with filial devotion; and, that it must be broadly diverse. Through the next several pages I will examine passages from the Analects that further illustrate Confucius’ teachings of education and its importance.

Confucius was granted the privilege of an education due to his mother’s determination and hard work. She had experienced the value and necessity of education and sought to give her son every opportunity. He also saw the struggle for those who were not financially able to get an education. At this point in Chinese history, however, education was reserved for nobility and the wealthy. There was no merit given for those who were poor but eager to learn. Confucius broke with this tradition after establishing his own school in the Kingdom of Lu, by striving to find the best students regardless of their social status. The Master said, “From one who brought only a bundle of dried meat on up, I have never declined to give instruction to anyone.” This passage illustrates Confucius’ belief that education was a privilege that should be available to anyone, regardless of socio-economic status. It also speaks to his inclusive and tolerant admission standards to his academy. These standards were likely based on his own childhood and the knowledge that without his mother’s determination and hard work, he himself would...
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