A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry forthcoming—B.P. (10/20)
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Entry from December 18, 2012
“Teachers open the door, but you must enter by yourself”

"Teachers open the door; you enter by yourself” is a popular proverb that has been printed on many gift items, such as posters, T-shirts and bags. “Teachers open the door; you enter by yourself” has been cited in English only since 1956, when it was included in the book Chinese Proverbs from Olden Times (1956) by Peter Beilenson. The proverb was printed in several newspapers in 1968 and is now included in many collections of education sayings.

The proverb means that a teacher can introduce a student to knowledge, but the student must apply that knowledge himself or herself.


Wikiquote: Chinese proverbs
Transliteration (pinyin): Shī fu lǐng jìn mén, xiū xíng zài gè rén.
Traditional: 師傅領進門,修行在個人
Simplified: 师傅领进门,修行在个人
Meaning: Teachers open the door. You enter by yourself.
English equivalent: You can lead the horse to the water, but you can’t make it drink.

Google Books
Chinese Proverbs from Olden Times
By Peter Beilenson
Mount Vernon, NY: Peter Pauper Press
1956
Pg. ?:
Teachers open the door; you enter by yourself.

8 May 1968, Amarillo (TX) Globe-Times, pg. 44, col. 2:
Chinese—“Teachers open the door; you enter by yourself.”

Google News Archive
13 June 1968, The Spokesman-Review (Spokane, WA), “Shop with Sue,” pg. 5, col. 6:
Teachers open the door; you enter by yourself.

8 September 1968, San Diego (CA) Union, pg. C-2, col. 7:
Teachers open the door—you enter by yourself—Chinese Proverb

18 April 1979, St. Albans (VT) Daily Messenger, Supplement, pg. 8, col. 4:
“Teachers open the door. You enter by yourself.” Chinese Proverb

Google Books
Meaning in Children’s Art:
Projects for Teachers

By Edward L. Mattil and Betty Marzan
Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall
1981
Pg. 2:
Teachers open the door. You enter by yourself.
CHINESE PROVERB.

Google Books
Proverbs from Around the World:
1500 Amusing, Witty, and Insightful Proverbs from 21 Lands and Languages

By Norma Gleason
Secaucus, NJ: Carol Pub. Group
1992
Pg. 117:
Teachers open the door, but you must enter by yourself.
Chinese

Google Books
Quote This!:
A Collection of Illustrated Quotes for Educators

By Diane Hodge
Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press
2008
Pg. 32:
Teachers open the door, but you must enter by yourself.
Chinese Proverb

Google Books
A Tribute to Teachers:
Wit and Wisdom, Information and Inspiration about Those Who Change Our Lives

By Richard Lederer
Chicago, IL: Marion Street Press, LLC
2011
Pg. ?:
Teachers open the door, but you must enter yourself. -CHINESE PROVERB

Google Books
Chinese Proverbs and Popular Sayings:
With Observations on Culture and Language

By Qin Xue Herzberg and Larry Herzberg
Berkeley, CA: Stone Bridge Press
2012
Pg. 16:
Teachers open the door; you enter by yourself.
[lit.: The master leads the student through the door, but perfecting one’s skill is up to the student.]
{A teacher can only expose students to knowledge; then it’s up to the student to work hard to learn what he or she has been taught.)

The Beijinger
The Lighter Side of China: The Idioms’ Guide To Chinese
Submitted on Apr 25, 2012 10:00am by Scott Kronick
(...)
And the idea of “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink” is practically identical to shifu ling jin men, xiuxing zai geren (师傅领进门,修行在个人). In other words: “A master can lead you to the door, but you must rely on yourself to cross the threshold.”

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityEducation/Schools • Tuesday, December 18, 2012 • Permalink