Confucius was a teacher in ancient China. He had very strict ideas of how people should behave. He believed everything in life had to be done a certain way. One of his teachings was "If the mat is not straight the teacher will not sit."
Confucius for Kids
Around 2,500 years ago, in the time of Confucius in ancient China, there was no public school. There was no public library. There was no internet of course. So, how did people learn? You could learn from your parents, but what if you wanted to learn more than they could teach you?
Confucius learned all he could from his parents. He decided the only way he was going to learn anything more was to go to work for a nobleman. Every time the noble traveled, Confucius went with him, including trips to the imperial court and the capital city. Confucius studied and learned until he probably was the most highly educated man of his time.
With the nobleman's help, Confucius became a teacher. Confucius was the first private teacher in ancient China. His students paid to study with him. Confucius did not limit his students to the children of nobles or government officials. He was willing to teach anyone who wanted to learn. Confucius had very strict ideas of how people should behave to develop moral character. These ideas are called Confucianism.
When I was a kid, I remember thinking the name Confucius sounded somewhat like the word confused. But Confucius was the opposite of confused. Confucius taught that everything in life had to be done a certain way, just one way, the Confucius way. He had very strict rules about how you had to behave. One of his rules was that gentlemen could only display their skill as archers on three hunts a year, in the spring, autumn, and winter. This was not a popular rule with some of the nobles. But Confucius continued to teach his strict rules of behavior. Many people, including many nobles, followed the analects (sayings and ideas) of Confucius.
Confucianism was the state-sponsored "religion" of many Chinese dynasties. It was the favorite philosophy of many Chinese rulers. One ancient Chinese ruler banned all books that mentioned Confucius. Whether people were for or against the teachings of Confucius, there is no doubt that his teachings had great influence on the ancient Chinese people and they way they thought about things and behaved. Today, people around the world still study the many sayings and ideas that Confucius taught long ago. Here are just a few of his teachings:
Excerpts from The Analects of Confucius, c.400 BCE
Do not do unto others, what you would not want others to do to you.
If you make a mistake and do not correct it, that is called a mistake.
Do not plan the policies of an office you do not hold.
Exemplary persons do not promote others because of what they say, nor do they reject what is said because of who says it.
Exemplary persons are steadfast in the face of adversity, while petty persons are engulfed by it.
Learning without due reflection leads to perplexity.
Never give a sword to a man who