Cein online Forum, 2010 Week Four: Our Teaching Strategy

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CEIN Online Forum, 2010

Week Four: Our Teaching Strategy

Ways to strategize:

Patricia: Strategies are deep choices, capables of generating guidelines, establishing goals and ables to draw good paths. In general it born of a desire for a united decision. When we decide we want deeply and seriously with the spirit of an oath, a few choices will arise naturally from paths and directions in a more or less planned, depending on how each of us enjoy living . Most important to know whether where we are evolving has coherence between our operational thinking and our actions. Here are some practices that I use in my life and that may make sense for some of you.
First of all, I observe if there is operational consistency between what I believe and what I determine to do. So, I ask for myself if my strategy - my profound array of choices - is in full accord with the Buddhist philosophy of the SGI, with the writings of ND, with the principles of Soka Education, with my personal principles and skills humanitarian want develop more in myself and in the other. I then think again about each of these issues and how to improve my choices so that they become deeper still, day by day. By doing so, my decisions and their reasons enable me to continue to pay my debt of gratitude and complete my responsibilities, and so this enables me to be in constant evolution.

Second, I'll see if my actions are having positive effects and processors in my surroundings. If they are not is because there is something inconsistent and I have to dedicate myself to know what is and fix it.

And what is my strategy as an pacifist educator? I am not only an educator when I'm in class. I consider myself an educator at all times and to evaluate the consistency of my actions. My individual strategy is: 
 "I want to keep me in the direction of my essential desired, and day by day, is getting a higher spiritual condition, maintaining the dignity of my life and my living, which is interconnected with respecting the dignity of life and the live of another one. "

My professional strategy :

"I want, through the interaction with decision makers - in organizations and educational institutions - be able to build and support the implementation of transformation projects (personal, social, organizational, and philosophy sciences) in order to build the world that we want, based on trust and the essential desire of each one and of the group / society"

Comments from Terry Ellis
Dear Patricia, what a beautiful way of looking at how to make choices and decide on your professional strategy. The language you introduce is wonderful and profound. 
The one word that jumps out at me because it resonates so strongly is inconsistency. I feel so fortunate to have embraced the strategy of the Lotus Sutra, since the inconsistencies in the world today can seem endless and overwhelming. 
The heart of the strategy that I use professionally derives from my own experience with Nichiren Buddhism when I began practicing. At the time I had dropped out of college during the student strikes in protest of the killing of unarmed students at Kent State by the US National Guard. I had joined the peace movement during my freshman year at college in 1968, and the more I learned, the more angry I became over the inconsistencies between what I had been taught both spiritually, morally and academically, and the realities of my family, nation and world. 
I particularly lost respect for education, and although I went back to college as one of my early benefits, the only teacher I truly trusted and respected was President Ikeda. When I read his description in The Human Revolution about his first meeting with Pres. Toda, I felt that what he was seeking was what I was seeking. This was confirmed by everything else he wrote, on a wide range of subjects, the heart of which I felt was a passionate desire for the peace of the land. Not to say that I didn’t struggle with doubt, but I felt a strong connection with President Ikeda, and his inspiring connection with Toda, as well as Toda’s with Makiguchi – all centered around the struggle for peace and individual happiness - which was the prime point of the Soka Gakkai. 
Sensei was the teacher who allowed me to connect Buddhism with my own history and culture. From Sensei and Nichiren Daishonin, I found a way of understanding the ultimate inconsistency of good and evil. What was the essence of this inconsistency? I had been raised with Judeo-Christian ideas, as well as my father’s notions of social Darwinism. Too many inconsistencies. So, I made my way intellectually through the nature/nurture debates, liberation theologists like Teilhard de Chardin, existentialists and Transcendentalists. The latter gave me hope, but I still was searching. In Buddhism I found an answer, that gave me the courage to face reality: good and evil co-exist, are inherent in life. Like ignorance and enlightment, one exists only in relation to the other. This was a revolutionary new way of looking at things that helped me deal with the inconsistencies I hoped to get rid of. I wanted it all in order!! 
Before I came to my first meeting, I actually had been introduced to Nam Myoho Renge Kyo, but I thought this was a version of the saffron robed Hari Krishnas who chanted on the sidewalks of Washington, D.C. while tear gas directed at peace marchers turned rowdy floated overhead. These people, I concluded, were ignoring reality. But without knowing it, from that point I actually had come under the influence of Buddhism in my thinking: My goal was to get rid of everything I saw as poisonous in my life - every attachment, all of the greed, anger and stupidity – and I actually thought this was possible. I realized that human beings had to change if we want the world to change. But one of my first experiences when I started chanting showed me clearly how little control I had over my emotions and attachments. 
The other true aspect that I confronted within the first year was my conscious and subconscious struggle since I was 3 or 4 years old with death. The Lotus Sutra's promise of eternal youth based on the Law attracted me immediately, as well as the profound concept of dying but not dying, and that if you want to understand life, start by understanding death. 
Regardless of what subject or age of student we teach, I believe these are the fundamental questions that confront children through young adulthood in an intense way. Birth is the first suffering elucidated in Buddhism: the suffering of a life that was integrated with the universe, and then as if one with the mother, is born into this world. This the beginning of the struggle to understand who and what he or she is. This is why, I believe, Sensei treasures the youth, and why the Lotus Sutra speaks of eternal youth. Youth have a pure sensitivity to inconsistencies. And in our classrooms or in our positions leading education institutions, training teachers, as well as being parents and being citizens whose tax dollars support public education, we have a life or death responsibility to those face those inconsistencies, first in ourselves. I believe this is an essential way we develop our empathy from a Buddhist perspective. 
I did not suggest the video that we began our first week of this Wiki discussion with, but Jeremy Rifkin was instrumental in my path toward Buddhism. I came to Washington, D.C. to work with him. He has been at this work of delving into the nature of a human beings and society since the late 1960s, and written many books that refer to knowledge in science and natural history that support a humanistic view of people. 
We also can use the language of science, as well as the language of peace, the language of the arts, the language of human rights, the language of mathematics in order to help share the Buddhist perspective on the true nature of life, and the fundamental questions on which hinge the happiness of each person. 
President Ikeda is our teacher along this path, as well as a model of parent and sovereign. He has conducted dialogue with people of wisdom around the world whose outlook on life and way of living mirror the reality of life that we express in the language of Buddhism. So, he has given us a textbook for raising global citizens. As he said in Vol. 1 of the Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra, we are all modern day Kumarajivas. But we also need each other to help self-reflect and make sure we do not distort the teachings or use them to advance our own agenda. Plus, joy shared magnifies the joy; and mutual encouragement helps us stand up with courage when the inconsistencies seem overwhelming. 
This is why I call Pres. Ikeda my mentor. I also have experienced how deeply he respects people as they are. He refers to the fact that children (all of our students) are like the canaries that were carried into coal mines to determine whether poisonous gases are present: Our students reflect back to us the distortions of our culture. We have the fortune to be charged with the future, and live together with a strict law of causality in our classrooms. We can work for a culture of peace in our classrooms, and help our students do human revolution, even though they do not chant. My strategy includes a view of the classroom as one of mystic connections: These individuals are together in my class and this is no coincidence. Each has a lesson, “kyo,” to teach and to learn from others in the class.
I had a particularly strident training in this regard, since I took to the path of education because I wanted something as close to Soka education as possible for my children. This meant that I was in classrooms with my own sons, and had to challenge any tendencies to favor or give preference to my own, as well as keep a level head despite the cruelties that children are capable of. I worked to not judge them and to desire the happiness of each child as if he or she was my own. This strategy is guaranteed to result in human revolution. The children taught me how to live and continue to cherish, to fail, and to start over again and again with hope. 
I also continue to challenge a strategy of cutting off judgment of students based on ideas of what I think they should know. This is because I had been the perfect student, doing what I was told, memorizing and giving back everything to please my teachers. When I arrived at the University of Colorado in 1968 I realized that I knew nothing about the most important things. They had been hidden, I felt, from my sight. I actually felt that I had been lied to. My goal is to help students learn what they feel driven to know and love to do, while encouraging them to challenge their weaknesses. This is one way to talk about good and evil. In the classroom, by modeling my own respect for diversity and individuality, I set the stage for discussions about classroom democracy and responsibility, and the inconsistencies students create in their own social hierarchies. 
I share all of this because although my early experiences with Buddhism happened 40 years ago, they live with me today. As Pres. Ikeda and Toda both said, go back to the beginning to refresh yourself. When things get rough with my children and students, I remember and identify the heart of their suffering with my own experience. The inconsistencies may be even more brutal today, especially because our children live in a time when - despite the great social and human rights movements of the 20th century - tremendous inequalities and injustices prevail, and the limits of the Earth's natural resources are being tested. It’s easy to be cynical. My children look at me and challenge: What is better? They are challenging me to do better. Sensei is telling us that one thing we can accomplish now with the help of the current generation of youth is great strides toward nuclear disarmament. 
So, here is the experience that helped me bring clarity to this issue of teaching for nuclear disarmament. From the beginning of my practice, I felt I was living in historic times: Here I was a US citizen learning about Buddhism from Japanese women married to US servicemen, and I was a peace activist. These women were doing their best to care for me, and my country had not only defeated them in war, but dropped the first nuclear bombs on two of their cities. President Toda’s respect and appreciation for the United States for establishing Japan’s new Constitution and freedom of religion, since it allowed for the propagation of Buddhism. demonstrated a profound view of causality that extended through past, present and future. And he demonstrated an amazing grasp of life’s (and of an event's) inherent good and evil: His charge to the youth before he died was to rid the world of nuclear weapons, which he condemned along with those who would choose to use them in the strongest of words. 
This was my introduction to the SGI and its movement of peace, culture and education, and these experiences never leave my consciousness for long. 
This Wiki dialogue has been very challenging for me, but yesterday I came up with an idea that might help us figure out a strategy to unite us. Stephanie reminded me that we each have our own strategies, and in some ways they overlap. And if we express these strategies, then we can come up with a conclusion that reflects elements of our different strategies. But I couldn't really understand how to succinctly state the heart of my strategy or what my strategy is. All I could think of was things that I've done - actually end products of my strategy - and things I would like to do with all of you!
So, I looked up strategic planning, given that the word strategy, as in strategy of the Lotus Sutra, has so many implications for different people, including me. 
This is what I found helpful to clarify and think things through. We will have the table/mandala (I love this language that Stephanie used) to work with, but we still need a summary of our strategies. So please share!! Here are the steps with definitions and the ideas I came up with, in case they help. 

Vision: Defines the desired or intended future state of an organization or enterprise in terms of its fundamental objective and/or strategic direction. Vision is a long term view, sometimes describing how the organization would like the world in which it operates to be. For example a charity working with the poor might have a vision statement which read "A world without poverty"

Borrowing Dr. Oberg statements as recorded by Sensei and offered by Michel:

Conflict like illness will not go away. But I aim for a world where nuclear weapons will never be used in a conflict.

Mission: Defines the fundamental purpose of an organization or an enterprise, succinctly describing why it exists and what it does to achieve its Vision.
It is sometimes used to set out a 'picture' of the organization in the future. A mission statement provides details of what is done and answers the question: "What do we do?" For example, the charity might provide "job training for the homeless and unemployed"

I will embody a culture of peace starting with myself and extending to my classrooms, home, community, nation and world.

Values: Beliefs that are shared among the stakeholders of an organization. Values drive an organization's culture and priorities and provide a framework in which decisions are made. For example, "Knowledge and skills are the keys to success" or "give a man bread and feed him for a day, but teach him to farm and feed him for life". These example values may set the priorities of self sufficiency over shelter.

I believe in the dignity and sanctity of life, that a change in one person changes the world, and that education is for the happiness of the student.

Strategy: Strategy narrowly defined, means "the art of the general" (from Greek stratigos). A combination of the ends (goals) for which the firm is striving and the means (policies) by which it is seeking to get there.

I use my own experience as a student, as well as a parent and citizen, to empathize and build connection with my students. Sometimes I lead from the front, sometime I stand alongside them, sometimes I stand behind and support. (sound familiar?) I ask the big questions regardless of the subject matter I am teaching, since at heart all knowledge is related to the human struggle to understand the universe and the place of the individual within it, including the relationship between good and evil, life and death. I bring my confidence based on faith to these big questions, and employ dialogue in the classroom to uncover the best language. I start by seeking out why each individual student studies, what his or her motivation is, as well as the connections that exist in the community of students.
end comments by Terry Ellis


1. How can we inspire joy and courage that empowers students and adults to speak out?
2. Parent/Teacher/Sovereign
3. The value of esho-funi/global solidarity/interconnectedness/nuclear disarmament class room learning -
4. The uniqueness of a person with the environment is key to enhancing the great feeling we get when we are one with the universe. 
5. Creating global solidarity Build solidarity around the dignity/sanctity of human life? Human rights; rule of law.
6. Empathy the Bodhisattva Way.
7. The power to make a difference in the classroom for students to live happier and more contributive lives.
8. Self Motivated Learning - a viable alternative to achieve our goal given the current "standards" and "achievement" focus in many of today's schools
9. Soka Education (I change, students change)

Drama, Role Plays
Class Community Charters created by students


I shared with some of you something I tried in a class of University seniors last spring and I will be trying it again this Winter. Since it was directed toward college students, I ask if some of you can help me think of ways to alter or adapt this for students in Elementary school or beyond.
I discussed with students who Daisaku Ikeda is and his contributions to education. I then discussed his anti nuclear proposal and asked students to work in teams to determine whether they thought nuclear weapons were necessary or if we could get rid of them. I also asked if they might offer some solutions for getting rid of them. This class is a class that I created but it essentially teaches communication strategies. So they were challenged with thinking about this (many of them had never thought about it before) and then they were challenged with how they might communicate their strategies to others so it could spread. They came up with some solutions; some that were humorous but nearly impossible and some that might be workable with a lot more thought. About half of them could not see how we could eliminate them since if we didn't have them then the bad guys would etc.
My initial thoughts over the last few days have been to think of children who are familiar with fights on the play ground and how they might offer solutions for avoiding any fights. I thought of younger students working in small groups to come up with solutions to avoid violence. I am hoping that those of you who work with younger children might help come up with some way to extend this exercise to those younger children. There might be something I could share with the older students I work with.


Michel Nader: Gostaria de contribuir citando alguns trechos apresentados pelo Ikeda Sensei em "Recordações dos Meus Encontros" com Dr. Jan Øberg:


Ensinando às crianças a não-violência
Um grupo educacional dos Estados Unidos está empenhando esforços para ensinar às crianças a não-violência desde o nível pré-escolar. 
Por exemplo, um conflito freqüentemente recorrente em uma determinada creche envolvia a limpeza. 
Para fazer as crianças refletirem sobre essa situação, os professores montaram um show de marionetes.
A história começava com três marionetes, representando as crianças se entretendo. 
Uma marionete adulta entra em cena e diz que em cinco minutos eles precisariam se arrumar. 
As três crianças reclamam e dão várias desculpas: 
“Estou cansado”, 
“Não me sinto bem”, 
“Minhas pernas doem”, 
“Eu não brinquei com aquele brinquedo” ou 
“Eu preciso ir ao banheiro”.
As crianças assistiam ao show de marionetes rindo muito, reconhecendo seu próprio comportamento diário desempenhado pelas marionetes.

Então, os professores interromperam o show e perguntaram às crianças como as marionetes poderiam resolver o problema. 

Percebendo que os professores precisavam de idéias sobre o que fazer no próximo show, as crianças começaram a oferecer soluções. 
Eis o que o professores reportaram:
1) “Os professores deveriam bater nas crianças que não queriam se limpar.” [Violência como solução.] Conversamos sobre esta proposta e chegamos à conclusão de que ninguém gosta de apanhar.

2) “Os professores deveriam gritar com as crianças.” [Punição e sanções.] Mas todos concordaram que ninguém gosta que gritem com elas.

3) “Ninguém deveria se limpar. Apenas deixem tudo como está.” [Ignorar e fugir do problema.] Nós conversamos sobre isso e concluímos que em algumas vezes isso pode funcionar, mas as coisas acabam se quebrando, se perdendo e nos fazem tropeçar quando se interpõem em nosso caminho.

4) Finalmente, veio a solução. 

“Todos deveriam limpar juntos, os adultos e as crianças.
” Nós conversamos sobre essa sugestão. 
“Nós gostamos de limpar?” Não. 
Todos concordaram que isso não era divertido. 
“Por que então fazê-lo?”. 

A discussão então continuou. 

(A Manual on Nonviolence and Children (Manual sobre não-violência e crianças), Stephanie Judson, ed. e comp. Filadélfia, New Society Publishers, 1984, pág. 43.)

Após a discussão, os professores apresentaram a segunda parte da peça baseada nas sugestões das crianças. 

Então, permitiram que as crianças brincassem com as marionetes e fizessem sua própria apresentação. 

Desse dia em diante, os problemas de limpeza terminaram, disseram os professores.

Acho que não sou o único que pensa que os líderes mundiais têm algo a aprender com esse episódio.
Questões para reflexão com os estudantes

“Vivemos em tempos loucos; nós mesmos estamos loucos”, disse uma jovem mãe muçulmana em Sarajevo.

Dez milhões de minas terrestres foram enterradas na antiga Iugoslávia. Algumas delas foram projetadas com o aspecto de ovos de chocolate ou de sorvetes. 
Por quê? Para atrair as crianças. 
Uma garotinha foi instantaneamente morta por uma bomba escondida em urso de pelúcia.

Quem desenvolve essas armas? 

Quem as fabrica? 
Quem lucra vendendo-as? 
Por que não impedimos tudo isso? 
O que podemos fazer?
(Peter Jarman e Jan Øberg, Learning Conflict and Teaching Peace in Former Yugoslavia: A Course Report (Aprendendo sobre o conflito e ensinando sobre a paz na antiga Iugoslávia: Um relatório dos progressos). Lund, Suécia, Fundação Transnacional para a Pesquisa da Paz e do Futuro, 1998, pág. 46.)

10 Princípios sobre Propaganda de Guerra para reflexão com os estudantes

A historiadora belga Anne Morelli recentemente deu nova luz às análises de Ponsonby, resumindo suas idéias sobre a propaganda de guerra em dez princípios:

1. Nós não queremos a guerra;

2. O outro lado é o único responsável pela guerra;

3. O inimigo tem a face do demônio;

4. O que defendemos é uma causa nobre e não interesses particulares;

5. O inimigo comete atrocidades conscientemente; se cometemos erros infelizes, é involuntariamente;

6. O inimigo usa armas não autorizadas;

7. Sofremos poucas perdas, enquanto as perdas do inimigo são enormes;

8. Os artistas e os intelectuais apóiam nossa causa;

9. Nossa causa é de natureza sagrada;

10. Aqueles que questionam nossas declarações são traidores.

(Anne Morelli, Príncipes élémentaires de propagande de guerre (Princípios elementares de propaganda de guerra). Bruxelas, Éditions Labor, 2001.)
As mentiras e os preconceitos geram a guerra e a guerra, por sua vez, gera mentiras e preconceitos.
O Dr. Øberg adverte que, em muitos países, os meios de comunicação são, na verdade, mais uma organização governamental do que não-governamental. 
As decisões e medidas políticas adotadas em relação à antiga Iugoslávia, observou ele, não foram baseadas na realidade, mas na “realidade” mostrada pelos meios de comunicação. 
Qual o valor de uma estratégia “realista” para se chegar à paz quando se baseia em uma visão distorcida da realidade?

A violência é o recurso dos covardes

Sandra, uma menina de 10 anos de Vukovar, lembra: “Há tantas pessoas que não pediram esta guerra, nem a terra que hoje as cobre. Entre essas pessoas, estão muitos de meus amigos.”

(I dream of peace, pág. 56.)

Embora possamos aprender a tratar as doenças, jamais seremos capazes de eliminar a doença em si. 

Da mesma forma, o conflito jamais desaparecerá totalmente da face humana. Nossa opção é responder eficazmente ou não a esses problemas quando surgem. 
Se respondermos eficazmente, o problema (a doença) pode ser um estímulo para o progresso e a criatividade, tornando-os mais fortes e saudáveis. O budismo também ensina a unicidade da saúde e da doença.
Por outro lado, se não conseguirmos diagnosticar e tratar corretamente o problema, diz o Dr. Øberg, o conflito crescerá até tomar a forma da violência e da guerra. Como um pesquisador da paz, ele fez as seguintes observações:
“A guerra é um sintoma de falência. Significa que fomos incapazes de tratar adequadamente o conflito que a gerou.”
“A violência nasce da frustração de se não poder resolver eficazmente o conflito.”
“A covardia e a intolerância concluem que o uso da força é a única opção disponível. Ao contrário, a não-violência é a crença construtiva de que existem outras opções.”
“Não se pode curar os doentes atacando-os e punindo-os; da mesma forma, o conflito não pode ser resolvido pela força, que somente agrava o problema e torna mais difícil encontrar um solução viável a longo prazo.”
“A violência faz coisas que jamais podem ser reparadas; além disso, a matança é algo irreversível.”

Fonte: Recordações de Meus Encontros "Dr. Jan Øberg, Diretor da Fundação Transnacional para a Pesquisa da Paz e do Futuro (TFF)" Daisaku Ikeda


(Comments from Patricia)

Belissima história de vida, Terry Ellis. Você realmente fala com o seu coração e isto é maravilhoso. O tesouro do coração é nossa mais valiosa estratégia como educadores que buscam a revolução individual com toda nossa sinceridade e humildade. Parabéns, grande bodhisatva! Obrigada pelos sinceros elogios, eu me encontro com Você em muitos dos seus pensamentos e sensações.

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