Complaints about the education of the youth from 1076 by Su Shi

I thought this was an amusing paragraph expressing the writer’s frustration at the mores and practices of the youth of 1076 in China.

I can recall meeting older scholars, long ago, who said that when they were young they had a hard time getting their hands on a copy of Shiji [Records of the Grand Historian] or Han shu [History of the Former Han]. If they were lucky enough to get one, they thought nothing of copying the entire text out by hand, so they could recite it day and night. In recent years merchants engrave and print all manner of books belonging to the hundred schools, and produce ten thousand pages a day. With books so readily available, you would think that students’ writing and scholarship would be many times better than what they were in earlier generations. Yet, to the contrary, young men and examination candidates leave their books tied shut and never look at them, preferring to amuse themselves with baseless chatter. Why is this?

Su Shi

The difference arose due to the proliferation of movable wood block printing in the 1000’s in Song dynasty China.

And curious indeed when comparing to our modern age.