By “key concepts in Chinese thought and culture” we mean concepts and keywords or phrases the Chinese people have created or come to use that are fundamentally pertinent to Chinese philosophy, humanistic spirit, way of thinking, and values.
bù xué shī, wú yǐ yán 不学《诗》，无以言
You Won’t Be Able to Talk Properly with Others Without Studying The Book of Songs.
In Confucius’ time, how well one understood The Book of Songs was a sign of his social status and cultural attainment. If one did not study it, one would find it difficult to improve one’s ability to express oneself and to converse with people of high social status. Confucius’ elaboration on the relationship between studying The Book of Songs and social interaction actually expounds on the importance of literature in education.
Confucius was standing alone in the central hall when his son Boyu walked across the front yard. Confucius asked, “Have you studied The Book of Songs?” “Not yet,” was the reply. Confucius then said, “If you do not study it, you will not be able to express yourself properly.” (The Analects)