The tao ofteaching

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  • 1. The Tao of Teaching Thoughts
  • 2. 1When you dont know, sayso!A teacher doesnt "know", a teacher"is". The greatest teachers arehumble and learn to say they dontknow and in doing so, let theirstudents join them on the journey ofthought rather than keeping them asspectators as the train roars bye.Wise teachers do not hesitate to say,"Sorry, I dont know. Good question!"
  • 3. 2 Teach your mouth tospeak what is in yourheart.The essence of teaching is "emotion"-- the bottled wisdom and personaldigestion of experience on the part ofthe teacher. Knowledge devoid of thisis but gristle we would chew up.Knowledge imparted with this isenergy and life for those receiving.There is nothing "dry" about goodteaching.
  • 4. 3Teaching is the art of asking the rightquestions . Ask the right question and only then, theanswer, the "good" will appear.In teaching, we should ask these 3 ancientquestions of all our acts, all our lessons.1. Is it true? (be in the good)2. Is it necessary? (dont waste time)3. Is it kind? ( be personal, have voice)If we pass through these gates in ourteaching -- we are participating in theSocratic notion of "the good". Let no daypass without thinking of this good - so saidSocrates when asked for his ownphilosophy.
  • 5. 4First you must master all the laws, then you canbreak them. Students need to master fundamentals. Then, they can break all the rules and create "their own" , be "their own". First, we must organize and plan and proceed. Once mastered, we can then lend the world beauty through creative disorder. No artist ever drew a great painting without first learning how to hold the brush or draw a straight line.....
  • 6. 5There are always two ways forward. When teaching (or learning, the flip image), there are always two ways forward. Struggle and effort, striving and "working" AND relaxing, letting go, finding flow. When teaching seek the right moment. There are times to sweat and attack the mountain. There are times to sit on the bench and enjoy the view. Both are a way " forward".
  • 7. 6Enjoyment is not expensive. Happiness andcontentment is within and all around. Sometimes, we think and equate "education" with money and reputation. Harvard means you are "better" than “Dodge City College". A day at the local amusement park is "better" than a walk down the local ravine. Nothing could be more “delusional". Value is from the process within. We are actors in our own lives, not heads stuffed full of straw. As teachers, we have to allow our students to see this natural disposition for "self fulfillment" and help them strengthen it. It is not that small or even bigger is better. It is not excitement or even flash that is better. What is "better" is that which awakens us, engages our minds and makes us part of the beauty of life. We teachers are "those that awaken" the tao - one hand clapping....
  • 8. 7Your only competitor is yourself Every day we look around and feel we have to "keep up". Keep up to what? Too much of life and teaching is "flywheel" and not the real, simple substance. Why? We are keeping up and not thinking of "real" quality and learning. More, more, more usually equals less. Do not look at your colleagues and think "what a poor teacher am I". Look at yourself and think - "what a better teacher I can become". The only competition is with what you could potentially become given your inner qualities. These qualities do not match any other teachers. They are your own and unique. Treasure them, water them and let them grow without the noise of competition...... When you have mastered this, your students will also discover it.
  • 9. 8Plans are only as good as the strength of thewillingness to abandon them. Teaching entails planning. Especially thinkingthrough the lesson delivery and content in termsof the students vantage point. This is the mainfilter through which all lessons must pass tosucceed. Yet, a plan is an ideal. The real worldis messy. There are fire drills and bloody noses.There are lost notebooks and slow computers.There are absences and presents. To succeed one must be willing to abandon, atany moment and at any time. It is the presentwhich is the present and not its relation to thefuture. As you teach, teach in that moment.Your plans are only a map -- there areinnumerable real and unmarked paths to reachyour destination.
  • 10. 9What we teach in not what we teach! In all human acts there is a mystery, a hole, a multitude of other movements. Same with teaching. Every teacher has an objective, a target, a curriculum, a focus for the lesson. But is this what is taught? Or what is attempted to be taught? In language (which is so much multifarious like life), most of the learning is outside of the objective. You aim to teach past "ed" verbs and one student learns the word "transitive" another the phrase, "May I go to the washroom". Language is learned not as the teacher wishes nor as the goal presents itself.... If the spirit is correct, learning will happen. We need an objective, we need hands on the steering wheel to keep our cart on the trail, we need a destination. But more important is to be open to time of the journey getting there. My what a view! -- that is learning. Create a classroom that enjoys the view -- the destination will then arrive.
  • 11. 10Teaching is the art of making the invisible,visible. Despite appearances, all "things", all "ideas", ALL is connected. There are invisible strings that bind like to like. Language reveals this in metaphor, thought reveals it in poetry and the teacher reveals it in their lesson. After all the facts are learned, the journey is only a quarter way there. We must fill all the spaces that separate these stones in the endless stream of life. Only then can we bridge and travel between what we knew and what we might know. This we then call "understanding". Teach so the spaces are revealed - there are enough rocks around to start making the bridge.
  • 12. 11 See the BIG picture. "The fox knows many things but the hedgehogknows one big thing." - a fragment of verse fromArchilochus When teaching we often get lost in the forest.Trees are everywhere, there are so many firesto put out, there are so many trees to chopdown! The master teacher always acts with the forestin mind. The big picture is what he/sheunderstands and each little action is informedby it. The master teacher is not a sly, intelligentfox but a wise, slow and sure hedgehog. Focusyour teaching from this perspective -HAPPINESS. It is from there that all otheractions are made good.
  • 13. 12 Nothing IS SomethingWhen teaching, allow for space.When teaching allow for thought.When teaching pause. So many teachers really fearsilence in the classroom -- theydemand a "quick" answer. Waitfor your students to think beforediscussing. The clanging bellrings no beauty! Sometimes doingnothing, is doing something......
  • 14. 13The Whole before each hill...... When one sets out on a journey, onemust know in the mind, the panoramaof the journey. After that, each hill maybe tackled, each curve encountered. When teaching, begin with the whole.The music before the notes, the feelingbefore the canvas, the idea before thething.One must have a container before onemay carry water. Teach widely and then narrowin.......only then will the facts find ahome to rest within.
  • 15. 14 Everything is Good. When teaching, we too often see the "cant". Astudent cant do this and a student cant dothat.... CAN"T is not something that exists, it isa phantom, it is illegitimate. There is only CANand the manifestation of that into the world andthe classroom. Everything is good. What we view as "bad" isonly our reaction to it, not the thing itself. Theuniverse has a reason we know not of. Amaster teacher keeps things positive andemphasizes what WE CAN. The energy of life isthat of good and we should ask ourselves asteachers, what Socrates asked so longago..."let no day pass without thinking of "thegood". Use sugar and your students will growfat with wisdom and intelligence. When they falldown, they will learn to fall down looking up.And if you are looking up, you can get up......Teach with the good on your mind.
  • 16. 15Latent structure rules obviousstructure It is by grace that knowledge and understanding are conveyed. We may "know" something in an obvious fashion but we wont understand it until we connect with it in grace, in spirit and in essence. A wise teacher transmits knowledge invisibly. The simple act of a teacher reading alone at their desk teaches students far more about reading than any direct phonics lesson. A teachers bright face when speaking teaches far more about mathematics than the obvious lines and signs on the board. It is by grace, by essence that all true knowledge multiplies (and all ignorance also...). Be a teacher who teaches as much "invisibly" as "obviously". The wind is everywhere but who sees it?
  • 17. 16Keep balance. Too much is the same astoo little. When teaching, spend time on what works. Keep a balance between the active and the passive. Dont do too much but rather focus on the experience and the "harmony" that enables learning. The knife that finds the middle way , never hits bone and thus, never dulls. Find the spaces between your students needs and your lessons will always be sharp.
  • 18. 17The most important thing youll ever say is, "Idont know". Teachers we are told, ask and answer questions. However, the truth and knowledge stands somewhere between. There is a mystery to everything. When you dont know - say so. It is the most glorious thing in the world, to teach your students that beyond this moment, beyond this experience, beyond this content, beyond this question and answer - there is a vast playground of unknowing which we can frolic in. Teach - "I dont know" and you will give your students the gift of curiosity and thought.
  • 19. 18 He who know, does not know A teacher that "knows" how to teach,does not know how to teach. Allknowledge is in flux and cannot begrasped. All teachers are learners, allalive is in the process of being alive.Nothing stands still and can be seen.Each class, each day is new and mustbe learned again. As the Buddha said to a follower whosaid they understood - "He who knowsthe Buddha, does not know theBuddha". Wisdom cant be pointed at orstopped. It can only be felt, tasted,touched, loved......
  • 20. 19Practice what you preach..... If you wish to change the actions ofany person, do not lecture, do not tell,SHOW. Learning is at all times,NOTICING. When the class is loud - theteacher should not SCREAM for themto be quiet. Rather, speak in a low tone.Put on soft music. People will noticeand change.If you want to get your students reading- dont tell them. Sit at YOUR DESK andread. They will notice and soon follow.If you want to get your studentsmotivated -- dont give them all kinds of"candies". Act motivated yourself - yourpassion will soon rub off.
  • 21. 20 Go deep, go slow. Learning, like life itself, is about theexperience. Haste makes not just wastebut disables us of the important abilityto "notice". All learning is "noticing" ,noticing the world around us andnoticing the connections and thechange happening, always happening. Teach so that the lesson is anexperience. Still waters run deep. Dontrush to the end, there is no end.Knowledge is everywhere and infinite.Aim to dive in and not skim across thewaters. All the jewels sink to thisbottom. Bring your students there......
  • 22. 21 SHOW - Dont TELL. The world is a forest of symbols which wewalk through. We perceive and are actedupon indelibly by strong and ancient forceswhich surround us and demonstrate to us -ways of being, acting and living. Theconscious mind, that voiced, is but a verysmall part of "the force of the world" whichacts upon us and makes us change eachstep through the forest. In teaching, we are perfect when in grace,in quietude we model ways of being. Simplysitting at your desk reading and enjoyingyourself teaches students much more about"reading" than any lesson voices andvolume, ever could. Whenever possible,show dont tell students. This is the naturaland perfect way of teaching.
  • 23. 22 Keep what you Give. The secret of teaching hinges uponones ability to keep what you give.Teachers give a lot. We give ofourselves, in time, in emotion, inknowledge and understanding. The tricklies in being able to get energy fromthis, to be constantly renewed by onesgiving. To NOT have energy suckedfrom oneself but to be constantlyreenergized by the act of teaching. You have to keep what you give.How? In letting go. Just letting go andbeing immersed in the process. To stopcounting what you get and give. Toswim in the ALL.
  • 24. 23Never try, it is the trying that gets in theway. A great teacher doesnt try - a great teacherdoes. There is grace and no greed. All that ateacher wants is all that they need. No more, noless. There is no thought about "what if?" or"Suppose?", only a doing with that at hand.Teaching is the art of managing necessity andnecessity is about exigency and not about desire.In our classrooms, we should find that flowwhich is always there for us to travel with....weshould not bull against and perspire up a hill ofour own making. There is grace in all teaching that passesbetween a student and a teacher. A grace madeof repose and contentment in doing/being andnot about getting somewhere and needing some"accomplishment". The learning which wouldbecome a trophy is a learning that is a mirage -Dorian Grays face in the pond of time.......
  • 25. 23Never try, it is the trying that gets in theway. How might one do this? Begraceful? It all begins withacceptance. Acceptance of yoursituation, your task, your studentsand their comportment/character.Acceptance of everything,unconditionally. From that momentof faith, in that act of faith, the firststep in grace can begin. Never try, it is the trying that gets inthe way. Act to create no resistanceand be a knife that will always besharp, always sharp - for it neverencounters resistance and alwaysfinds the spaces between things.
  • 26. 24Teaching is not the same as speaking."The dog barks, the caravan passes". Too often we believe teaching is what wesay, teaching is what we speak, teaching ismade of words. Nothing could be furtherfrom the truth. What passes betweenteacher and student as knowledge, is notpassed by way of words or "noise". Soundis the after effect. Teaching is about your look. It is aboutyour spirit and about how you stand and"be". Teaching is about a thousand smallthings that flow into a moment and then thenext moment. It is what cant be immediatelyverified and thus lasts forever. Learn to teach from your being and notyour mouth and you will learn to teach well.
  • 27. 25What you cant record can still bemeasured. The wind is everywhere but who can say howmuch there is? In teaching, we many times thinkthere is no progress. Students dont get goodresults, they repeat the same mistakes, they cantspeak a correct sentence, they ...... We grow frustrated. But just because we cantsee or record the growth does not mean it isntthere. Sometimes, like the lotus, it will all come tobloom in one great swoop of beauty. A river maylook still but underneath, there is always acurrent moving forward. Students are ALWAYSlearning - this is a condition of human beings. Be patient and keep going ahead. With faith, youwill one day measure all that which you wereunable to record. You will measure it in a studentstanding before you who knows, knows morethan knowledge but how to get knowledge.Those that are impatient and who want tomeasure what cant be recorded, will be left at theside of the road.
  • 28. 26What you teach is not only what youteach. works with human clay - not just A teacherknowledge or subject. Every day weencounter the human spirit, the mystery ofexistence that asks us to participate is somegreat plan we know not of..... Teachers must remember this. Seek forthat which is permanent. Education is whatremains after all else is forgotten. Aim forthis "green forever" and you will succeed."The whole country devastatedonly mountains and rivers remain.In springtime, at the ruined castle,the grass is always green. "-- Tu Fu
  • 29. 27What we have learned is as much whatisnt stored as that which is stored. Teaching is about helping others learn.And people learn both the obvious andthat which isnt obvious and a shadow.When we learn "freedom", we alsolearn about what is imprisoned behindthe gate. When we learn our ABCs, wealso learn about not having letters.When we learn how to make coffee, welearn about our need for coffee. The teacher must be aware of both thevisible curriculum and that which is notvisible. We never just teach one thingbut should attempt to teach that whichis behind both things.
  • 30. At the Thatched Hall of the Tsui FamilyIt is autumn at the grass hut on Jade PeakThe air is cool and clear.Temple bells and chimes echo from thecanyons.Fishermen and woodsmen wind oversunset trails.We fill our plates with chestnuts gatheredin the valley and rice grown in the village.For what, Wang Wei?Bamboo and pine, silent, locked behind agate.-- Tu Fu
  • 31. 28 Pick Your Battles. The wise teacher knows that the wayto accomplish anything is to choose theweakest point and go from there. Donot meet power with power or buttheads - strength to strength. Choose your battles - the ones abouteducation and which will make adifference. Be blind to all others.Conserve your strength and attack atthe weakest point. Here, a student canbe "got" and a lifetime of learning/beinglit. Do not win battles but win the war. Everyone has a crack - thats how thelight gets in.....
  • 32. 29 Seek your own demise. A teacher, like any artist, seeks todisappear. If one does their jobperfectly, there is only learning and noteaching. If one does their jobgracefully, long enough, they will nolonger be needed. Just like the motherwho alone must shed a tear and let herchild go out into the world, so to theteacher. This is our goal as teachers - topursue our own demise - and be happyabout that. Do not cling to your ego as ateacher but let it go and let the studentfind their own corners of learning....
  • 33. 30 Everyone is a teacher. "What one learns from me, one cantlearn from someone else." Every teacher brings a uniquemanner, a unique spirit to the table oflearning. The content may be the same,the administration may demandobjectives but something else is taught,is transferred. It is this which flavorslearning and makes it alive. Every teacher, teaches somethingdifferent. It is this which makes ourprofession an art and it is this which isour salvation.
  • 34. 31What is IS. One day, a teacher came to see a retiredprincipal to get some advice.He asked, "Im really happy where I amteaching. I love my job and think mystudents are wonderful. However, I have agreat opportunity at another school. Imwondering what to do? What will I find atthis new school - maybe Im getting myselfinto a bad situation?"The principal took a drink of his coffee thenanswered, " Oh, for sure, you will find evenbetter students and even be happier thanyou are now!"
  • 35. 31 What is IS. Next week, the principal had anotherteacher visit. He had a question and neededadvice. He asked the principal, "Im really sad anddepressed at my present school. Thestudents are horrible, I hate teaching them.Ive applied for a transfer and will moveschools soon. However, Im really worriedabout what I will find there. What do youthink?" The principals eyes lit up and he smiled.He answered quickly, "Oh, for sure, you willfind even worse students and be even moredepressed than you are now!" con’t.
  • 36. The Tao of TeachingFind more wisdom andsupport from fellow teachersat EFL Classroom 2.0.Add your own stories andteaching wisdom.