Ancient Wisdom for Parenting Children – Part 7

Standards for Being a Good Student and Child

(A Guide to a Happy Life)

Chapter 7

“After Doing the Above, the Arts Come Next”

The seventh chapter teaches us that after we have accomplished all the above duties, we should further study literature and art to improve our cultural and spiritual life.

Confucius set a standard for us as to what kind of books we should read and what kind of books we should avoid. The kind of books we should read had to have a positive effect on us. Any book that causes a negative impact should always be avoided.

Confucius expected every one of his students to be a balanced person, whose inner qualities, like a person’s virtues and integrity, had to match that of outside, which were developed from the study of literature and art. Only then will this person become a truly refined person, with integrity and a noble character.

The first standard:

If we acquire knowledge but do not sincerely apply what we have learned, we will have only increased our conceit.
What then will we become?
If we are sincere in what we are doing but not acquiring knowledge, we will only be stubbornly following our viewpoints.
We will never see the truth.

If we study hard, but focus only on the words and not their underlying meaning, we will never truly understand. When we study this way, we will be able to increase our knowledge but will never be able to benefit from it. In fact, we could easily become arrogant thinking we know many things.

If we are sincere in the many things we do but never increase our knowledge, then we will always think the same way and be unwilling to accept change. We will never think we are wrong.

The second standard:

When studying,our mind, eyes, and mouth must be focused on our learning.
All three must be wholeheartedly dedicated to learning.
When reading a book, do not contemplate another.
If we have not completed one, do not start another.

When studying, if we are interested in what we’re reading, then we will be motivated and therefore able to learn quickly. To be successful, you must concentrate on what you’re reading and not be distracted.

When studying science, we need to make sure we only have sour science book our desk. If using the computer when studying, we should only be using those programs we need for our homework. Also, we should not be watching TV, listening to music, or talking on the phone while we are doing our homework.  If you do any of these things while you are working on your homework, you are going to be distracted and therefore not able to concentrate as you should.

The concept of focusing on only one subject at a time is not new. In the past, many countries required their students to focus on only one book at a time. They would not even think about another book until they had finished the one they were currently studying. Even though today we have more than one subject to study, we should still focus on only one at a time when doing homework.

Studying one subject at a time makes very good sense. If we are constantly jumping back and forth between several subjects, we are not really learning but rather wasting our time. If we focus on one subject at a time, we will be able concentrate more effectively.

The third standard:

In our studies, we should set a reasonable timetable and then study hard. With enough time and effort, we will thoroughly understand the text.
If we have a question, we should make a note of it.
Then ask a person who knows the answer.

Many things we do can sometimes take longer that we first thought; just like studying. There are many reasons for this; people might be interrupting us, perhaps the topic is harder than we expected, we may be missing some books we need or we might just be tired and therefore find it hard to concentrate.

If we were to set a study schedule we would then be able to plan our time more efficiently. We would know when to study each subject and therefore have enough time to complete our homework. Knowing when we need to do something helps us manage our time as well as making sure we have enough time to complete each task. So setting and following a study schedule will make sure we have enough time to do a good job on our homework and that we have enough time to prepare for tests. This way, by not being rushed, we will really learn all of our subjects.

Besides needing time to study, we also need to understand what we are studying. Given enough time and effort, we can learn even those subjects we thought at first were going to be difficult.

What should we do if we come across something we don’t understand?

We should first write the question down so as not to forget it. Then we need to ask someone who knows the answer. That someone could be our parents, a friend, or even the librarian.

By asking the right person, we will be sure to get the right answer.

The fourth standard:

We should keep our room clean, our desk tidy, and our pens and pencils in their proper places.
If we do not properly care for our writing tools, it shows carelessness.
If our words are written sloppily, it shows disrespect.

We have talked about that we need to learn to respect or parents, brother and sisters, and our elders. We also learned that we need to care for those who are younger. It’s also important to care for and respect our room and everything in it.

If we treat our room and the things within it with respect, we will develop the habit of respect. We will not need to keep reminding ourselves to behave correctly; we will do it naturally. This will make both us and our parents very happy.

Having a study area that is neat and tidy will make it easier to study. We won’t waste time looking for a book we need to do our homework or become frustrated when we can’t find something. Also, a neat study area will make us comfortable and relaxed so we can concentrate on our homework.

Now that our study area is neat and organized, when we leave for school we can be sure we have everything we need. We will no longer  be rushing around trying to find things in the morning when we are getting ready to for school.

Making sure our pencils are sharpened, the caps are on the markers, and our writing is always neat are some of the many ways to show that we are careful and respectful.

The fifth standard:

Books should be organized and placed on the bookshelves in their proper places. After reading a book, we should put it back where it belongs.
Even when in a hurry, we should carefully put our book away. If it is damaged, we should repair it.
Do not read books that are untruthful or immoral, for these will block our wisdom and undermine our aspirations.

Today, books are more easily available than ever before. Not only can we borrow them from the library as before, we can now buy them online and even download them in electronic format. So even though they are easier to get, we need to remember that they need to be treated with respect.

When we organize our books on the bookshelf, we will always know where they are and can then find them when we need them. This way we will never waste time looking for them.

If we’re given books as gifts from our parents, grandparents or friends, we will want to keep them safe and protected. We may even want to put them in a special bookcase.

When we are finished reading a book, we should not leave it open where the pages can get dirty or place it with the book spine facing up since that will damage the book. Instead, we should place a bookmark on the page we were reading and then close the book and put it back on our bookshelf.

If a book has a page that is torn, it can be repaired using some tape over the tear. If the book cover is bent, it can be flattened by placing some heavy books on top.

What about books that are dishonest or immoral? Even though such books may seem exciting to read, we will not learn anything of value and therefore are a waste of time and money.

The sixth standard:

We should not, because of our arrogance, harm ourselves by doing something improper.
We should not, because of our lack of confidence,give up on ourselves.
With effort, we will gradually become a noble person.