“The Three Character Classic” – Unit 3

Zheng Jian Editing Group for Chinese Culture Teaching Materials

PureInsight | March 29, 2011

Unit 3


養(yǎng) 不(bú) 教(jiào),父(fù) 之(zhī) 過(guò),
教(jiào) 不(bù) 嚴(yán),師(shī) 之(zhī) 惰(duò)。
子(zǐ) 不(bù) 學(xué),非(fēi) 所(suǒ) 宜(yí),
幼(yòu) 不(bù) 學(xué),老(lǎo) 何(hé) 為(wéi)。


(1) 養(yǎng):raising
(2) 教(jiào):education, teaching, lesson
(3) 父(fù):father
(4) 過(guò):fault, mistake
(5) 嚴(yán):strict
(6) 師(shī):teacher
(7) 惰(duò):lazy, irresponsible
(8) 子(zǐ):kid, child
(9) 非(fēi):not

Text Translation

It is the parents’ shortcoming if they only provide their children material needs but ignore their education. Likewise, it is a teacher’s laziness or irresponsibility towards teaching when students are not strictly supervised and diligently taught.

Children must not cut corners in learning or skip schoolwork. If they don’t make an effort to learn how to interact with others and deal with these matters in their youth, and cannot establish themselves with extensive knowledge in society, they will not be able to do anything when they are older.


Discussion Questions

1. If one day you become a parent, how would you teach your children? Which is more important, family education or school education? If you were a teacher, how would you teach your students? What would you ask your students to do first?
2. Visit and observe the adults that you know. What qualifications do they possess for their current jobs? If they did not work hard when they were young, could they do well at their current jobs?


Wu Shun Establishes a School

In the Qing Dynasty, a beggar named Wu-Chi lived in Tang Yi County in Shan Dong Province. He begged and took on various chores to save money and buy land to build a school. Because of his great achievements in establishing a school, people named him Shun (means “Lesson,” “Education”).

Wu Shun’s father passed away when he was only five, leaving him and his mother begging on the streets to survive. Although they lived a hard life, he was still content about his life with his mother. Unfortunately, he lost his mother when he was seven. Being all alone, he went around doing chores for others. Wu-Shun didn’t care a bit about living a difficult life, but what was most unbearable for him was that he couldn’t go to school like ordinary children.

During his adversities, Wu Shun realized the importance of studying. Because he was illiterate and uneducated which limited him, he decided to establish a non-profit school, allowing children from poor families to have the same educational opportunities as others. This was to help them avoid following his path, since he lost his chance of acquiring education due to lack of money. Thus, he begged in the daytime and made strings of cannabis at night. After about thirty to forty years of constant hard work, his school, ”Chong Xian Yi Shu,” was finally established, benefiting many students.

Wu-Shun cared a lot about his student’s school work, and he paid the greatest respect to the teachers. If he saw teachers who did not take teaching with great care or students who did not study hard, he would kneel down in front of them and ask them to do their best. The teachers and students were greatly moved and would keep up their great effort. His spirit on school moved and touched many people.

Education, in fact, affects a person’s life immensely. If one does not cherish one’s opportunity of learning and studying at childhood, and does not know how to take the golden time of one’s youth to cultivate oneself, one will regret it as one grows up. During the Ching Dynasty, the famous politician Zuo Zong-Tong had a subordinate called Chang Yao, who followed Zuo to win many victories in combat. Zuo appointed him to a high-ranking position in the government. However, Chang could not read, as he did not study when he was young. The government had no choice but to rescind his position. Feeling very regretful, Chang then made a determined effort to learn to read, found teachers, studied day and night, cultivated himself, and eventually made great achievements, earning again the government’s trust with great responsibilities.

A poem “Chang Ge Xing” in Yue Fu (a ancient poem collection) saying, “Hundreds of rivers run east into the sea, when will they return to the west? If one does not work hard when one is young, one will be regretful when one grows up.” Everyone should study hard when one is young, learn how to interact with people in society, and cultivate oneself to avoid being regretful when one is old.

Writing Reflection

1. What do you think about Wu Shun’s deed in establishing a school for the poor?
2. Wu Shun set his goal and then worked hard to attain it. What is your goal in life?
3. The process of acquiring knowledge and cultivating the mind is very difficult. What kind of attitude should we take in the face of difficulties?

Traditional Chinese: http://big5.zhengjian.org/articles/2007/1/23/41930.html
Simplified Chinese: http://www.zhengjian.org/zj/articles/2007/1/23/41930.html


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