“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn."

Benjamin Franklin never said those words, he was falsely attributed on a respected quotation website and it spread from there.

The quote comes from the Xunzi.

Xun Kuang was a Chinese Confucian philosopher that lived from 312-230 BC. His works were collected into a set of 32 books called the Xunzi, by Liu Xiang in about 818 AD. There are woodblock copies of these books that are almost 1100 years old.

Book 8 is titled Ruxiao ("The Teachings of the Ru"). The quotation in question comes from Chapter 11 of that book. In Chinese the quote is:

不闻不若闻之, 闻之不若见之, 见之不若知之, 知之不若行之

It is derived from this paragraph:

Not having heard something is not as good as having heard it; having heard it is not as good as having seen it; having seen it is not as good as knowing it; knowing it is not as good as putting it into practice. (From the John Knoblock translation, which is viewable in Google Books)

The first English translation of the Xunzi was done by H.H. Dubs, in 1928, one-hundred and thirty-eight years after Benjamin Franklin died.”


Xun Kuang
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