This is what I was trying to say when I paraphrased FOUR:
Taoism is often simplified as saying that Nature is the Way and that we cannot go against The Way of Nature. That’s close, but it’s not quite it.
Nature is also part of Tao. Nature is not Tao – if it was, Lao would have begun, The Tao that can be named is not the Tao, and everyone would have responded Yes it is. Tao’s name is Nature.
What is Tao? That’s a good question, but the mistake is made when we try to find an answer. There are many questions that need to be asked, but which cannot be answered. This is one of them. Just asking the question (possibly repeatedly) is enough to change your way of acting. You don’t need an answer – in fact, there is no answer. But the question still has a transformative effect on your behaviour.
Tao, for the sake of ease, can be thought of here as effective teaching. This kind of thing cannot be turned into a simple formula. Why? Because there are so many variables. But it is a possibility in every single classroom. So, how do we realise effective teaching in every single classroom. Again, that’s a good question, but don’t waste your time trying to answer it. It’s enough to ask the question. Imagine walking into every class that you teach for the rest of your life with this question on your lips. Would it make a difference to the way that you taught the class? The way that you saw the class? The way that you reflected on the class? I think so.
There’s no big secret to being an effective teacher and there’s nothing really astonishing to say about it. We do it every day. We come across good teachers every day. Sometimes good teachers are really bad teachers – that is, you might learn an awful lot from watching someone do something really badly. Good teachers might be YouTubers, bus drivers, shop assistants, parents, children, babies, old people. But, if we were to go back to the message of TWO, it is not possible to have good teachers if there are no good learners.
Anyone and anything can be a good teacher. But without a good learner, the lesson is lost. So, the message goes out to teachers who beat themselves up: it’s not you; it’s not them; it’s really not anything other than the situation as it presents itself. And this dire experience that you’ve just put yourself through…well, it’s among the best teachers that you can find. The best learners find the best teachers in the most unlikely places.
I like the observation that good teaching is right under our noses – ironically, ne of the body’s many blind spots! I think that this captures an essential part of Taoism. It’s not teaching and it’s not taoism (or is it?), but here’s an interesting thought: how would your self-image change had you never seen a reflection of yourself? Presumably, at some point in human existence, this was the case for many, many people. Were they happier or sadder than the Selfie Generation?