56 – the number of “Yeahs” in Man on The Moon (R.E.M.) AND Lithium (Nirvana)
Guten morgen liebchen. What are we going to talk about today? I don’t know. Which proves Lao’s maxim that Those who know do not talk; those who talk do not know.*
The rest of this verse is an exhortation to stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone and become one with the Way. Lao seems to be saying that this can be done through meditation, but you will never hear such words from my over-caffeinated, smoke-scented fingers. So what does it mean to me?
It means that I need to take a good hard long look at myself and see me for what I really am. Strip away the excuses for why my lessons are sometimes goddam awful; strip away what students may think of me; strip away what colleagues may think of me; and look at what’s left. Find my core and catalogue it. As Lao puts it, Become one with the dust. This is who I am and what I hold true.
Once that is done, says Lao, you won’t ever care for fame or fortune. Praise, humiliation, money, poverty – all of these will be beneath you because you will have something that elevates you above such trivia: you will know yourself which is the guide to knowing the world, the universe and everything.
There’s no point in telling people how to teach; you have to let them find their own way. And the teacher training that is out there may be doing just as much harm as good, as received wisdom is passed on and accepted unquestioningly. Some people won’t ever find their own way. Pray that they never work where you work.
*This pearl of wisdom is also spoken by Da Mayor in Spike Lee’s superior Do The Right Thing. If you have not seen this film, you will die unfulfilled. Go to Amazon/iTunes/PirateBay and get it. If I am ever President, I will pass a law that decrees that, just as USAicans have to stand up and salute a flag at school every day, in my educational institutions, the day will have to begin with a showing of Mr Lee’s opus magnus.