Saturday, November 16, 2013

How we spend our days

"Presence is far more intricate and rewarding an art than productivity. Ours is a culture that measures our worth as human beings by our efficiency, our earnings, our ability to perform this or that. The cult of productivity has its place, but worshipping at its altar daily robs us of the very capacity for joy and wonder that makes life worth living — for, as Annie Dillard memorably put it, “how we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”
-Maria Popova

I read this inspiring post from the great blog "Brain Pickings" recently, and Annie Dillard's quote got me thinking. We spend 7 hours a day with the children at school. This means, I spend more waking hours with them in a week than I do with my own friends or family. The children spend more time with me at school in a day than they do with their own parents! It made it blatantly clear to me that our time together is a huge part of both their and my life. We are each other's company for a large part of that time right now. It made me consider Maria Montessori's quote about school being "a preparation for life". No, I'm thinking, the time we're at school is life itself! It is "how we spend our days."

Putting it in that kind of perspective made it imminent that care and thought be put into making that time be as enjoyable as possible for all of us involved. I wondered if I should bring my thoughts to the children and ask them- "How can we make the time we spend together be really nice for all of us?" I brought this up with my friend, who is an elementary teacher, and she said- "That's exactly what we do at the beginning of the year with the elementary students!" (This makes me secretly love the thought of taking elementary training more than I already do). Those old ones apparently have a meeting at the beginning of the year and discuss what are the agreements they will all make to ensure the environment is enjoyable for all of them. How to bring this to the mind of the Primary students?

All this once again reconfirmed what seems to be a recurring lesson for me- that HOW WE ARE ends up being more important that WHAT WE DO. Or at least, as important when it comes to how we are spending our life.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

"The things that matter most in our lives are not fantastic or grand. They are moments when we touch one another, when we are there in the most attentive or caring way. This simple and profound intimacy is the love that we all long for." -  

Jack Kornfield 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The teacher

"A teacher, out of compassion and love, seeing that somebody is suffering, gives a path. But each individual has to walk on the path. There is no magical miracle with the teacher. Totally out of the question. He only shows the path. That is the only role of the teacher, nothing else. "

- S. N. Goenka

My meditation teacher passed away a few months ago, and one of the quotes that surfaced in a website announcing his passing was the quote above. When I read it, I could relate to it not just as a student, but as a teacher of little children as well.

Sometimes I don't want to let a child make a mistake. Sometimes I want to sit right next to them after I present something, to help them get it all right on the first try. Sometimes I give them a choice that is not really a choice, it is a masked strong suggestion, or even a costumed threat.  Sometimes I want to choose for them, because it's so much easier."I know what's good for you", I think. Sometimes I want to act for them, and not see them say hurtful words or do hurtful things. Sometimes I want to MAKE them do things in a certain way. Sometimes I reject the way that they are being and want to change it, quickly, because I am uncomfortable with it.  I have all these urges, sometimes.  Sometimes I am the pickaxe that spoils the key.

I forget, sometimes, that my job is to show the path and then GET OUT OF THE WAY. That THAT is the only thing I can do. Only to try my best to show the way clearly, lovingly, with care and precision,  with joy and hope. I cannot walk it for them.  Ultimately, each one has to walk the path themselves.