18 November 2012

Confucius as the Best Coach - Personalized Teaching

We all know that Confucius is a great teacher. Chinese has given him the title of "万世师表" translated as "The Model Teacher of All Generations".  I think he is great for two things, the content and his method of teaching. To be an effective teacher, we must master the two things, the content and the method of teaching (pedagogy) . Within pedagogy, the key, very often missing, is a good understanding of the character and learning attributes of the students.

The Best Teacher is a Coach
Coach is one that does these two things well, understanding the student and then using the right methods to convey the right content to the student. Hence,I use coach instead of teacher because coach is personalized tailored teaching. Actually, a good teacher should be the best coach. He/she teaches according to the capability and character of the student. This is best illustrated by the following text:

因人施教 Teach According to the Person's characteristics

论语 11.22 子路问:“闻斯行诸?”
子曰:“有父兄在,如之何其闻斯行之?”
冉有问:“闻斯行诸?”子曰:“闻斯行之。”
公西华曰:“由也问闻斯行诸,子曰,‘有父兄在';求也问闻斯行诸,子曰,‘闻斯行之'。赤也惑,敢问。”
子曰:“求也退,故进之;由也兼人,故退之。”

【译文】
子路问:“听到了就行动起来吗?”孔子说:“有父兄在,怎么能听到就行动起来呢?
”冉有问:“听到了就行动起来吗?”孔子说:“听到了就行动起来。”
公西华说:“仲由问‘听到了就行动起来吗?'你回答说‘有父兄健在',冉求问‘听到了就行动起来吗?'你回答‘听到了就行动起来'。我被弄糊涂了,敢再问个明白。”孔子说:“冉求总是退缩,所以我鼓励他;仲由好勇过人,所以我约束他。”

ZiLu asked "Shall we do what we heard immediately?"
Confucius said, "You have father and brother, how can you just do what you heard?" (i.e. consult your elders first).
RanYou asked, "Shall we do what we heard immediately?"
Confucius said,"Yes. Quickly do what you heard。“
KongXiHua asked Confucius, "why different answers for the same question?"
Confucius said that RanYou was hesitant all the time and hence encouraged him to take action whereas ZiLu was impulsive and hence I restricted him.

So, when you read the great quotations from famous people, do watch out that it may not be applicable to all people in all situation.

Wisdom is understanding this simple truth, "It depends" and know how to apply the right principle to the right person in the right situation.

It is not that simple else everyone will be wise already.

See also

Lim Liat (c) 18 Nov 2012
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