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He teaches ill, who teaches all

[ 2009-08-28 13:52]     字号 [] [] []  
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He teaches ill, who teaches allReader question:

Please explain this sentence – He teaches ill, who teaches all.

My comments:

Read it this way: He who teaches all teaches ill.

This is a proverb advising teachers not to tell the student everything. Not that he teaches the student anything evil (ill), but that his methodology of revealing everything to the pupil is ill (bad, poor).

Does that mean teachers should hide everything from the student, such as the kung fu master of yesteryear always saving a good trick or two from his disciples?

Well, the old kung fu master might have done that for one of many reasons. One, say, the student may not be good enough to begin with – the master wants to bring him along slowly, to see if it’ll be worth his while to teach him anything more sophisticated. Two, easy access to all of the master’s moves might give the student, even if a good one, an unwanted sense of complacency. Three, the master wants to save his own skin in extreme circumstances, that is, in case some sinister-minded disciple may become a threat to the master himself once they mastered all the moves.

Well, that’s not exactly what this proverb means to warn against. “He who teaches all teaches ill” instead sends out a positive message. What I mean by “not to tell the pupil everything” is simply this: always leave room for the pupil to think things over and work out solutions by himself.

That’s why Confucius said: Show the student one corner of the room and leave it to him to name the other three corners.

“If not,” the peevish (^_^) master added of course, “I won’t teach him anything in future.”

Peevish or whatever, Confucius meant well. You can’t tell everything and expect the student to add his own initiative to the process. So therefore, always leave room for the student to use his own imagination.

In Tuesday’s column, I told Steven, who spoke of himself (or someone else being unhappy) with his job, to find another one when the opportunity arises.

That’s only one side of the story. The other side, which went untold on Tuesday, was that the young employee should learn to be a bit more patient with one’s employer as well as with one’s work place in general.

Because, sooner or later, one should be able to find that answers to mighty questions such as one’s happiness lies within rather than without. One’s employer can only offer so much, or so little to the young and ambitious. One must accept this and ask: What else can I do to bring to the table?

For a simple instance, by changing to a new job, one usually sees only the immediately obvious – a higher pay, shinier doors and floors etc. Overtime, however, one realizes that behind the shinier façade often there is, say, the same dog-eat-dog competitiveness amongst colleagues which was what contributed to your unhappiness with an organization in the first place.

To be fair, all organizations have its nastiness, politics, in-fighting, etc. Just don’t let this depress you. After all, you are more than what your title or job description say you are. And the world is bigger than the confines of your cubicle. Elevate yourself above your office and in so doing move above petty office politics altogether.

Yes, this way you’ll become more tolerate of your work place.

And be happier.

But first, you’ve got to learn to cultivate your spirituality and improve your philosophy.

Oops! That’s telling too much, I’m afraid.



About the author:

Zhang Xin is Trainer at chinadaily.com.cn. He has been with China Daily since 1988, when he graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University. Write him at: zhangxin@chinadaily.com.cn, or raise a question for potential use in a future column.


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