64 – go to wikipedia and take your pick!
People usually fail when they are on the verge of success.
So give as much care to the end as to the beginning;
Then there will be no failure.
Therein lies an awful lot of advice. Perhaps the sage should shut up and let the words speak for themselves at this point? But as a mere sage-in-training, I am going to let my fingers tap dance all over this keyboard.
Once again, Lao tells us to Deal with it before it happens./Set things in order before there is confusion. How the hell can it be dealt with before it happens? Are teachers to be qualified in fortune-telling? The clue rests in the second sentence. An ordered approach is the kind of approach that makes sense here. Ground your students in what you do by talking to them about it. Encourage reflection and reflective criticism. If the students – and you – know where it is that you all are, then it is impossible to become lost. Lao writes that It’s easy to shatter delicate things,/easy to scatter little things. He’s talking about your approach.
If you want to take a taoist approach to your teaching, he’s also telling you that it doesn’t really matter if everything goes wrong. Because you are taoist enough to realise that it was all pretty ephemeral anyway. And if you try too much, then you’re wasting your time. Remember wu wei. Here Lao writes it as Do and do wrong – which sounds like some pessimistic Motown hit to me. Lao is advising all teachers not to do but to be – a point underlined by the French film Etre et Avoir. Perhaps the taoist film would be …et Non Avoir. And when you are in the classroom, being, our opening lines act as a reminder: there will be times when your being will be sorely tested and you will stray across into the dead patterns that teachers seem to favour. BUT WAIT!!! Remember that people usually go wrong at the end – just before they have won the prize. Stay constant. Be who you are. It’s got you this far.