Home > Commentaries on TTC > 55 – the sum of the numbers 1-10 (and a palindrome hehehehe)

55 – the sum of the numbers 1-10 (and a palindrome hehehehe)

It's almost 0555 as I begin to type

To know harmony is to know what’s eternal. How those words will chime for those of us who have bemoaned the apparent cycle of fads and trends that our trade seems to be governed by! Is grammar in or out? Do we teach reading aloud or reading quietly? Should we do dictations or not? Is grammar translation a good thing or a bad thing? Ever practical, we defined a new way forward: principled eclecticism – in other words, anything goes. Lao advises us to look beyond fads and focus on what is always there. What is always there? The fact that language is used for communication and that people tend to learn language without much else more than a desire to be heard. That is the eternal fact of language learning. That should underpin what we do. It’s a very enlightening concept. Language is not about exercises and pre-listening tasks. In fact, these things would seem to be the antithesis of language learning. Lao warns us that What is contrary to tao will not last long. Of course, we knew this already – how many of us have forgotten the languages we were taught at school [NB not the languages we learned at school]? Babies provide good models for budding taoists to follow: despite knowing sweet fanny adams about the world or anything, he says, babies are up for it [those of you who are familiar with his precise analogies will have to forgive the pun]. Be ready to learn and you will learn. Be ready to teach and you will teach. Being ready to teach is the same as being ready to learn. It requires an open and empty mind.

Categories: Commentaries on TTC
  1. March 6, 2011 at 07:58

    I’m not sure which is more pathetic, westerners who embrace eastern religion or Asians who become happy clapping Christians.

    • dfogarty
      March 7, 2011 at 07:47

      I’m not sure how relevant this is to this blog, neither embracing the taoist religion nor being a happy clapping Christian Asian. But I’ll raise an eyebrow anyway: is there any reason why people should be labelled pathetic because of their choice of faith? Many people turn to religions in an attempt to fill a void in their lives or in their worlds – why worry about a speck of sawdust in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? (Matthew 7:3) 😉 Similarly, why should Asians not turn to Christianity? After all, it is a religion that started in…errr…Asia.

      Perhaps you were feeling tired and emotional when you wrote this post. If you would like me to delete it, only say the word. But be clear that taoism is both a philosophy (which I have a lot of time for) and a religion (which I don’t). I don’t see anything pathetic in liking a philosophy no matter where it comes from. I would have thought that you’d appreciate the free nature of ideas rather than try to tie the cultures down into their geographical pens. You don’t usually expect to find bigotry coming from an EFL teacher. Despite being an atheist, neither do I find it pathetic that people from different cultures embrace the religions of others. After all, with all due respect to the religiously-inclined, in my humble opinion, any religion seems pretty far-fetched. You might as well believe in divine revelations to illiterate shepherds as in the miracle-working of a carpenter’s son. Other people rail against religion because they think it is suppressing the people and stopping them from forcing real change upon the world. I always wonder what alternative these people offer to the religious? Do these people visit prisons? Do these people visit the sick and dying? What do these people do? More often than not, they sit on the sidelines and do nothing.

      The point being that your post does come across as rather bigoted (which it is) and may indeed carry undertones of racism (which I am most certain were not intended). It also makes you look remarkably closed minded – perhaps as much as those pathetic westerners and Asians who step outside their cultures…

  2. March 6, 2011 at 11:16

    Very clear and concise, and I couldn’t agree more.

    • dfogarty
      March 7, 2011 at 07:24

      Thanks, David. I was wondering whether or not my reader preferred the new look concise version!

  3. March 7, 2011 at 14:40

    I may have wounded you with my mean jibe. Forgive me, I am a very mean and sceptical man. I just find Daoism to be a particularly vacuous belief system and often wonder if westerners who subscribe to it do so because of the exotic and esoteric image it conveys.

    • dfogarty
      March 7, 2011 at 14:50

      If by “vacuous” you mean, as my dictionary suggests, “devoid of matter”, then I think you may have hit taoism on the head. Whilst I am reluctant to say that I subscribe to taoism, I do find it a useful metaphor to help me write about my views on teaching. In fact, if I might be said to “subscribe” to it, I probably do so because it has a healthy distaste for authority and other people’s solutions.

      In the meantime, I am happy to say that I am unwounded and welcome your contribution.

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