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Au naturel

This is what I was trying to say when I paraphrased SEVEN.

The Tao Te Ching talks about “Heaven and earth lasting forever”. Heaven and earth are, of course, just conceptual labels that we have applied to reality. The nature of human conceptual labels is that they are all made of language. So, it didn’t seem too much of a jump to paraphrase Lao Tzu as saying that “Language lasts forever”. Following on from that, it didn’t seem too much of a jump to say that, just as heaven, earth and language last forever, so too do teaching and learning.

That is, as long as there are people to carve out measured time, there will be teachers and there will be learners. Teaching, learning, language…all these are inevitable for living people (and possibly dead ones too, but we just don’t know). So, dum spiro, doceo; dum spiro, accipio; and dum spiro, lingua est. No breathing, no language, no teaching, no learning. Members of the jury, I put it to you that life is teaching and learning.

That established, the question arises as to whether or not it is necessary to professionalise the role of the teacher. Surely, life itself is teaching (and learning), so why create another label and another concept? If we allow life to take the lead, the dance is much smoother and far more expressive. Smart teachers hold back. They allow life to return to the classroom and are there to observe it. Life, as the buddha taught, is not free from snaggles, so the observant teacher can unhook jerseys from mulberry bushes and pick up those who stumble on the way. The teacher who leads the way is far too busy to look back to make sure that everyone is safe.

When you don’t meddle, things tend to work out in their own way; in nature’s own way. Many people think that nature’s way can be improved upon. That’s their own nature! The cards are stacked. Throw down your hand. Nature always takes home the winnings.

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