A Western Buddhist's Travels

Sightseeing & detours on the path of enlightenment

Thoughts about being a teacher

“If you are a teacher, try not to merely transmit knowledge, but try at the same time to awaken your students minds to basic human qualities such as kindness, compassion, forgiveness, and understanding. Do not communicate these s though they were the reserve of ethics or religion. Show them that these qualities are indispensable for the happiness and survival of everyone.”

H.H. The Dalai Lama from 365 Dalai Lama, daily Advice from the Heart p.149

First of all, I admire those who choose teaching as a profession. I also believe we are all teachers, in our own way. However today’s post is about those who are helping to mold the minds of the people we will entrust the planet to, in our declining years. Today in many countries with the amount of time parents spend away from home due to work, teachers are in someways more influential than parents. I know you will say but I talk to my children everyday before bed, I watch them to make sure they do their homework. How much time do you spend teaching them values, traditions and ethics or morals?

Today’s teachers face unique challenges, from handling emergency potty problems with the earlier grades, to teenagers questioning their sexuality, to weapons in schools. Also with technology today, how do you truly grade work, and not worry if they copied it from some web page, or even used a paper writing service on the web.

Kids today are used to 4 minute spans of attention, about the average length of a Youtube video. Try explaining differential fractions in four minutes. What your using Bing or Google to find out what I just mentioned, I’ll save you the time, the shortest is 5:48 the full explanation is over 48 minutes long. How about the Big Bang Theory, and I don’t mean the hit comedy show currently on television. If you don’t use the right search terms, you can see about 19,000 clips form several seasons of the show, add science to the search parameters, and you’ll find it quicker. However which one will the kids choose to watch?

As a Buddhist all science is to be studied, and there are no discoveries that would affect our view of the universe. The universe is accepted as it is, there is no omnipotent entity that is controlling it, or forcing choices on us. So teachers need for fear teaching evolution, or being forced to teach creative evolution. ( http://www.icr.org/article/3383/ ) Knowledge of how the universe works is to be valued, not only for the pure science, but also for the beneficial applications of that knowledge. It is a question of do we use the knowledge for wholesome actions, that benefit all living creatures, or unwholesome acts that may result in the extinction of one or more species.

How do you teach about free speech, when some countries severely restrict anything that does not support their nationalistic view. How do you teach students how to judge what is wholesome and what id unwholesome, when every person with a viewpoint can make a web page. How does a teacher use sources such as newspapers, when recently such long stalwarts of responsible journalism like the New Yorker had to retract stories after Jonah Lehrer admitted to making up sources and quotes. That in this day and age of computers, and the internet, that the editors failed to verify any of these is the real tragic story.

So as a parent what can you do to not only ensure your child receives a quality education, but learns the ethics and moral values that will allow them to make wholesome choices in the future. For as much effort great teachers may put in, there is still a parental responsibility, to ensure that our children receive a well rounded education.

“We are always too busy for our children; we never give them the time or interest they deserve. We lavish gifts upon them; but the most precious gift, our personal association, which means so much to them, we give grudgingly.” Mark Twain

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3 thoughts on “Thoughts about being a teacher

  1. I believe education should be more about teaching children to become better citizens instead of better students. We currently operate in the parameters of the latter, and thus miss out on helping kids become more ethical, socially conscious human beings. And people wonder why so many kids in Gen Y simply “don’t care”…

  2. It’s not just Gen Y, it started back in the 70s. We need to teach children how to learn, however we need as you point out to teach them to be better citizens. Also I believe teaching certain life skills, such as basic first aid, with cpr at appropriate age. Also basic household skills such as budgeting, nutrition, and household safety.

  3. Pingback: A New School Year Means… | Jarrid Smith

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