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."

In ancient China, a long time ago, there lived a very curious young boy. His father had died when he was three years old. His mother taught him as best she could about farming and life. But Confucius wanted to learn more. He wanted to learn everything he could. He decided to work for a nobleman. The nobleman liked Confucius. He liked his curious mind. Every time the noble traveled, he took Confucius with him, including trips to the imperial court and the capital city. With the nobleman's help, Confucius became a teacher, the first private teacher in ancient China.  

At the same time he was teaching what he had learned to others, for a fee, Confucius continued to study and learn new things until probably he was the most highly educated man of his time. Word of his great knowledge began to spread. Students came from all over to study with Confucius. Confucius believed in rules. His rules were set; they never varied. He had a rule for everything. His many rules dictated the way people should behave so they did not behave in the wrong way. His students had to learn his many rules and always obey them. His teachings are called Confucianism.

In ancient China, Confucianism became both a philosophy and a religion. It was the state-sponsored "religion" of many Chinese dynasties. It was the favorite philosophy of many Chinese rulers. People today still quote and study the many sayings and ideas (rules) that Confucius taught to his students about 2,500 years ago.


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.

Never give a sword to a man who can't dance.

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