The Tao of Teaching

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Teaching as effortless action

 

Course evaluations can provide helpful feedback about what we’ve done well and where we can improve. The confusing part is when we see polarities in evaluation data (too much group discussion, not enough group discussion; too much time, not enough time; etc.). But the solution isn’t necessarily working harder at the front of the classroom.

The Eastern notion of “effortless action” implies action aligned with our authentic selves. The harder we try to exert influence and control, the further we get from the fundamental essence of what it is to teach and to learn.

 

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The Tao of teaching is the unity between: 

Thinking and doing 

Speaking and listening

Working and playing 

Teaching and learning.

 

Consider: Each of these contains elements of the other. Thought is itself a form of action, and action embodies elements of thought. As we speak we are responding (to), and we listen to ourselves. As we listen our mind is speaking. Work and play are not distinct from one another. As we teach we learn, and we learn as we teach. 

Effortless action in a Western frame might be conceptualized as the psychology of flow.

 

Whatever name we give to something essentially un-nameable, for me the Tao of Teaching means finding that place inside and then reaching out and connecting with what is true and authentic in others. That’s when magic happens. 

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