“Our attitude towards ourselves should be ‘to be satiable in learning’ and towards others ‘to be tireless in teaching’,” wrote Mao Zedong (Tse-tung to us oldsters), according to the U.S. Education Department’s Kids’ Zone web site. Actually, Mao wrote “insatiable,” which makes more sense.
When someone objected to giving the “quote of the day” to a Commie mass murderer, it was replaced with a quote from Abraham Lincoln, reports Buzzfeed. That didn’t stop the mockery.
The department apparently takes random education-related quotes from a database and puts them up without proofreading or thinking.
Mao was exhorting fellow revolutionaries to study and promote the Communist movement, writes Robert Upshaw on The Ponds of Happenstance. He found the original in The Role of the Chinese Communist Party in the National War.
Very clearly, the quote in context is about studying for the sake of propelling the movement, not for the sake of knowledge in its own right. And the teaching bit is about teaching others in order to bring them into the same movement. It’s cult-speak, plain and simple.
“Insatiable in learning” and “tireless in teaching” are Confucian phrases found in The Book of Mencius, writes Upshaw.