Friday, 9 May 2014

Tao of Teaching

Chapter 17 of the Tao Te Ching

The best education is the one no one notices, the people are free to go about the business of realizing their potential.  
The next best is the education that is loved, though this distracts people from realizing their potential in favour of a shared idea.
Next is the education driven by fear where testing and failure dictate your future.
The worst is the one that is despised, this education creates such hatred that none can succeed.

Student happiness in their school system

Ah, that Tao te Ching (that's my favourite translation by Wing-Tsit Chan), it pretty much works for everything from governing to ethics to metaphysics to naming a blog...

Chapter 4... blunting sharpness, untying tangles, softening light and becoming one with the dusty world
I first came across the Tao in a fourth year philosophy class. Our prof had the six of us go through this little (5000 character!) classic in detail. It's the closest I've come to finding a holy book. At the end of the course he asked us if we could find fault with the ideas presented in it, no one could. It's a profound, deeply sensitive and honest guide to life. He then asked, will any of you give up your delusions and follow it? No one could or would. Opting out of modern society isn't easy to do. Even finding the path out is difficult.

From bad days in class to moments of clarity, the Tao te Ching offers a voice to the teaching experience:

A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent upon arriving.

A good artist lets his intuition lead him wherever it wants.
A good scientist has freed himself of concepts and keeps his mind open to what is.

Thus the Master is available to all people and doesn't reject anyone.
He is ready to use all situations and doesn't waste anything.
This is called embodying the light.

What is a good man but a bad man's teacher?
What is a bad man but a good man's job?
If you don't understand this, you will get lost, however intelligent you are.
It is the great secret.

The basics that Lao Tsu stresses are honesty, flexibility and an immediacy with creation. You'd think these simple things to keep in mind but we seem wired to cater to the distractions and abstractions of our intelligence.

There is a grace to Lao Tsu's Way that emphasizes just how fractured we are from the world today. As a teacher I see it more than most because I see generations pass before my eyes. Rapid changes in technology affect both how they see themselves while also further limiting their relationship with the reality in which they exist.

It's a pyramid, it must be true!  Hierarchy of Digital Distractions