According to Sir Francis Bacon (1561 – 1626) – English author, courtier and philosopher – “Reading maketh a full man; Conference a ready man and Writing an exact man”. These three words – Reading, Conference and Writing taken together imply Education. The widest interpretation of Education is what you learn from infancy and continue to learn throughout your journey in life even after you have acquired all the literary degrees. Hence education includes the three aspects touched upon by Bacon.

There are three parts to this saying. Let us examine and interpret each independently.

Reading maketh a full man.

One reads books (or e-books on the internet) for a number of reasons. While one may read in order to gain knowledge, another may read to find solutions to one’s problems. Some read novels in order to gain happiness, whereas many read epics and literature to benefit from the philosophical messages (ethics and values), which authors try to convey through their writings.

Some people (especially students) read to learn new subjects and get their doubts cleared. A lot of information is obtained by reading. Students’ vocabulary and grammar improve with reading. If students have to do well in academics, they must do a lot of reading not only from the prescribed syllabus, but must also read relevant topics which will make them well prepared for challenges in life and career.

Scientists, engineers, doctors and researchers have to do a lot of reading on their subject matter (through scientific journals) if they have to keep abreast of the latest technologies and be proficient in their professions. Reference books, theses, dissertation and treatises provide a constant source of learning new ideas, and innovative and efficient ways of doing things.

Reading expands the boundaries of one’s horizon. It creates new horizons for one’s abilities. Reading provokes the tendency to think and explore new possibilities. The power of critical analysis of statements and sayings is enhanced and it enables taking judicious and rational decisions.

People acquire wisdom and intelligence through the writings of great people. By reading newspapers and magazines, they get to know about the current happenings in various fields like international and domestic politics and diplomacy, education in India and in the world, latest inventions and discoveries around the world and factors which influence global environment. Reading helps to improve the reader’s communication skills. Reading serves as a good companion and influences thoughts and actions of the reader. It also enables one to treat defeat and victory alike. Reading inspires us to revel in victory with all modesty, and take failure in our stride, treating failure as a stepping stone to success.

In short, reading develops the personality of a person and during this process, the person learns from others’ experiences and gains in self confidence, thus tending to become full. Hence – Reading makes a full man.

Conference makes a ready man.

Conference is interpreted as debate or discussion. Good debating skills require people to think on their feet. They must be able to comprehend a point quickly, think fast about its pros and cons, and must readily put forth an apt answer. They should be able to accurately pinpoint the root of the issue. This quality will come only when the speaker has an exposure to debates from a young age.

It is only through the practice of conferences that speakers imbibe quick wit and are on an alert to be able to ward off and slip out of uncomfortable situations. Simultaneously they should be able to exploit the opportunities that they get in the course of their discussions. A ready man needs to be an effective communicator and a good listener. He should possess the gift of the gab. He must have the strength of conviction in his speech and have persuasive skills to sway others to his point of view. He should be in a position to challenge pre-determined ideas. Above all, he must have presence of mind, clarity of thought and fluency of language.

A proper conference is one in which the participants come with an open mind either to influence others or to be influenced themselves. A classic example of an improper conference is what we witness daily in a particular TV channel where the anchor bulldozes the panellists by interrupting them repeatedly and putting words in their mouth. Personality clashes are also the order of the day in this channel. Listening – an important part of Effective Communication is conspicuous by its absence. People indulge in one-upmanship. In a democratic conference, debate and discussion must lead to formation of a consensus. To sum up the above, Conference makes a man ready to face any opponent in debate.

Writing makes an exact man.

A writer must be able to give an accurate account in his writing. Once a writer writes something, it will have to stand judgement and criticism for its inaccuracies. A writer will be commended for having written an article or a book or treatise, which is correct and non controversial. He must be able to use precise words or phrases, as it goes on record.

Spoken words can be retracted with an apology. However, speakers who are controversial in their speeches (especially today’s lot of politicians) try to disassociate themselves from what they have said, by saying that they have been misquoted and that the statements attributed to them have been reported out of context. They stand trial by the media and the citizens, but for a limited amount of time, as public memory is apparently short. On the other hand, a writer cannot escape from what he has written, as it is documented and there is intractable evidence. The writer will stand trial for a longer duration from citizens, media, the judiciary and the government.

In writing, the logical flow and sequence of articulation of thoughts must carry the article or essay ahead without deviating from its rational conclusion. Practice (of writing) makes perfect and leads to exactness of the essay by the writer. Hence – Writing makes an exact man.

The complete quotation clarifies its meaning further: “Reading maketh a full man; conference a ready man and writing an exact man. And, therefore, if a man writes little, he had need of a great memory; if he confers little, he had need of a ready wit; and if he reads little, he had need of much cunning to seem to know that he knoweth not”.

The youth who want to become orators and writers must thus be exposed to reading a variety of books, articles and biographies of great people; be involved in debate and discussion; and possess thorough and focused knowledge of the area under discussion.

Anup Y. Attavar
Connecting Indians
B.E. Mech. (COEP, Pune); P.G.D. – International Trade (IIFT, New Delhi)
Alumnus – Loyola High School, Pune (India)
Special Correspondent – Dwarka Parichay (Western India)
Independent Statement of Purpose (SOP) Counselor & Content Writer
Editor – ‘World Famous Indian Scientists’; Writer – Company Profiles & Articles
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Note: For the benefit of the student community and young professionals, Dwarka Parichay publishing a series of articles on truly great personalities who have contributed to nation building. This will be useful to youngsters to know in-depth about our national heroes, who have sacrificed a large part of their lives for the sake of the country. Most of us have never had the opportunity of meeting these people to understand their greatness and qualities that set them a class apart.

Indeed, their lives, with their sincerity of purpose, along with their grit and determination to overcome all odds and their struggles will serve as role models for the current and future generations who, by and large are not aware of the giant contributions made by these truly great heroes in the fields of science and technology, industry, business, etc. The youth will definitely benefit by reading about these giants in their own fields. Even if a small percentage of our youth and students strive to follow the footsteps of these towering personalities, attempt to imbibe a scientific temper and if these articles instill a sense of patriotism among the youth, these articles will have served their purpose.