Confucius as Teacher

A disciple asked Confucius, “When I hear a good idea, should I act upon it right away?” 

Confucius responded: “You have your father and elder brother, so why should you act right away as soon as you hear an idea?” The student, having gotten his answer, withdrew.

Another disciple came in and asked Confucius the same question: ““When I hear a good idea, should I act upon it right away?”

Confucius said: “Of course, you should act upon the idea.” Having gotten his answer, the student withdrew.

A third student, who sat through both of the two exchanges, was puzzled. He asked the master: Why do you give two conflicting answers to the same question?

Confucius replied: “The second student, named You, has a passive disposition, so I encourage him. The first student, Qiu, is by nature aggressive, so I temper him.”

When Confucius taught, he taught based on his understanding of his students. In his methodology, just as in his philosophy generally, humanity is important. (

(A Chinese stamp showing Confucius and his disciples)