Over 5000 years there’s been a lot of Chinese proverbs addressing education. From Confucius through the Cultural Revolution, one’s education has always played a prominent role to determine a one’s role in Chinese society.
While the most stereotypical perception today of Chinese learners is that of robots mindlessly regurgitating information via rote-learning, this isn’t universally an accurate depiction.
Here are 4 Chinese proverbs on education that will make any Westerner stop and think.
Study is like climbing a mountain.
As opposed to our fast-paced consumer society, studying is something that is a slower journey to higher vistas. The greater the climb, the more effort required; but as you reach greater heights, so does the view increase!
Live to an old age and study to an old age.
This Chinese proverb (I mean in a loose sense) is more like a common expression heard in Mandarin. Learning should never stop at school, but be a gateway where we learn to explore the world for the rest of our lives.
Whether it be music, new technology, or languages, I’m always impressed when I see older people truly living out this expression!
3. 我听见 我忘记，我看见 我记住，我做 我了解。(Confucius)
I hear, and I forget; I see, and I remember; I do, and I understand.
I love this proverb as it is important to think about when teaching children. Kids love to be ‘hands-on’ in their learning. They like to ‘see’ and also ‘do.’ It’s unfortunate many Chinese language curricula for kids do not take on this sage advice!
Walking ten-thousand miles beats reading ten-thousand books
Travel and experience can be a wonderful education. Seeing the world is certainly an education unto itself. For a Chinese language student, experiencing China first-hand not only brings to life the classroom but further inspires learning.
So, there you have it! These are but a few of the many Chinese proverbs which thoughtfully and beautifully make any Western stop and think!