77 – a Swedish wartime password. Pronunciation helped identify if the speaker was Swedish, Norwegian, or German.
Another beautiful contribution from Lao Tzu. The tao of heaven is like a bow. When it’s strung, the top is pulled down and the bottom is pulled up. The tao is all about raising those at the bottom and pulling down those at the top. I don’t think the intention is to tell the poor to be content with their lot as much as it is to tell the rich that they should be concerned with theirs. But what does it mean for the language teacher?
Lao tells us that if we want to become taoist teachers, then we need to remember that taoism is about taking from those who have and giving to those who don’t. I’m interested by that first verb, taking. It implies agency on behalf of someone other than the possessor. Tao isn’t just about giving. This blog has made it clear before that taoism is in keeping with Freire’s teacher-students and student-teachers. In other words, it doesn’t delineate the classroom roles quite as clearly as others. So we need classrooms where all can be plundered and all can be enriched. Not a classroom with a benevolent emperor at the front who dispenses wisdom and knowledge to their people, because this kind of giving and taking keeps people dependent and enslaved. How do we do this? Lao answers:
the wise do without claiming,
achieve without asserting,
wishing not to show their worth.
In other words, teaching is not about crowd control and enforcing order. It is about letting learning happen rather than making it happen; a teacher who thinks this way will not need to show their worth because they will know that it really has very little to do with them and all to do with their students.