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For Educators

"Tenno, a Zen student having completed his ten years of apprenticeship acquired the rank of a teacher. He thought he had the awareness and the alertness required of a Zen teacher. One day he went to visit the master Nan-in. It was a rainy day, so Tenno wore wooden clogs and carried an umbrella. When he walked in, the master asked him whether he had placed the umbrella to the right or to the left of the clogs? When he realised that he didn't know the answer, Tenno decided to become a student again to seek continuous awareness......"

Many of us have taken on the role of an educator armed with the mandatory degrees, confident that we have learnt the required techniques and skills, secure in the belief that everything else will be learnt along the way. However somewhere along the way we find ourselves at crossroads, very much like Tenno, wondering whether there is a lot more to learn, whether our path is the path we want to believe in. There seems to be a yawning gap between what we begin to realise is "right and good" and what we force ourselves to do as teachers.

One of the main reasons for this gap is the fact that we have been schooled in systems where the model of authority is that of an ultimate "giver", "controller" and "possessor" of all knowledge/information. While the concept of a teacher being a life long teacher is romanticised - it remains just that. At the most it is reduced to picking up a few skills and attending a few workshops and seminars. The focus in teacher training workshops is on "how to teach" rather than on "how to learn".

A mechanistic view of the world has resulted in the focus being on "output and results". Schools are akin to assembly lines in factories. Learning is considered to only comprise of that which can be measured, quantified and is deterministic. Learners are reduced to products and teachers to technicians. We are conditioned to believe in only those things that can be perceived directly and are heavily biased against intangibles.

"If you believe only in what you see then you are limited to what is on the surface"-Dyer. Anyone who loves teaching realises this sooner or later - that for learning to be a transformative process it is the intangibles that are important - the relationships, feelings, attitudes, beliefs, dreams and working through fears and anxieties...

So how does process work help a teacher?

It has broadened my world-view from that of an efficient, task oriented, purposive teacher, whose modality of functioning was similar to that of a house-wife who bears blinkers to look only at her kitchen, her children, her house etc. My focus then was entirely on my class, syllabus, results and how to achieve them. In this restless drive to achieve and perform I was closed to a lot of larger and more important issues in education.
Process work has helped me become a life long learner in the true sense of the word. A person, who is continually willing to question hitherto unquestioned assumptions, closely held views and convictions in the light of new findings.
But why self-exploration?

It's through this process one discovers the innumerable ways in which one limits oneself. We also learn to extend ourselves, expand our consciousness and look at learning as a process rather than as a 'one activity endeavor'. It helps us look at both the process and the end result, thus enjoying the journey and also reaching the destination. It also helps us look at many more metaphors of teaching and learning other than that of a giver of knowledge alone.
When teachers are facilitators, catalysts and co-travelers they are no longer the sole bearers of the burden. They are able to co-create a space where students are partners in the learning process. This adds the much-needed spark in the teaching-learning process. From a mechanical programming, learning becomes a joyful journey of discovery for both.

When the Zen master attained enlightenment he wrote the following lines:

"Oh! Wondrous marvel,
I chop wood,
I draw water from the well,
I plough my fields".

When there's a transformation within, nothing may seem to change superficially. But there's a remarkable difference - you see the world with a different eye and your heart is full of wonder.

 

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