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152 Daoist Wisdom for Teachers A Diary Study DAVID MCLACHLAN JEFFREY Daoist wisdom as presented in the Daode jing is the philosophy of living in harmony with Dao, considered as the way everything exists. It is one of the three main Chinese worldviews, alongside Confucianism and Buddhism. Its mystical and individualistic essence emphasizes a realization of virtue (de) through an appreciation of paradox and nonaction (wuwei) as well as choosing simplicity and spontaneity or naturalness (ziran) in place of complexity and impulsiveness through adherence to the three core values of compassion, moderation, and humility. Through the Daoist prism, everything coexists mutually and is interdependent because of the interaction of two interdependent elements known as yin and yang. These are not polar opposites but two sides of the same coin. Daoism regards all elements as being complementary in that each defines itself in relation to the other. With this come paradoxical notions of the seemingly weak overcoming the strong in the sense that flimsy bamboo yields to storms and survive while mighty oaks fall, and wind and water patiently flow around rocks while turning them into sand over time. Teacher Diaries One of the first philosophers to introduce Daoism to the West was Zen practitioner and thinker Alan Watts who lived from 1915 to 1973. Much of his prolific writing and speeches appeared posthumously, such as Dao: The Watercourse Way with Chung-Liang Huang (1975) and Daoism: Way Jeffrey, “Daoist Wisdom for Teachers” / 153 Beyond Seeking (1997). The subsequent growth of interest in Daoism among Westerners has led to many annotated English translations of the Daode jing such as those of Roberts (2001), Ivanhoe (2002), Ames and Hall (2003), Wagner (2003), Lin (2006), and Moeller (2007), to name a few. They have provided Westerners with insights into Daoism, supplemented by works on its application to daily life, found in works such as The Dao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff (1982) and The Daoist Cookbook by Michael Saso (1994). Among educators, Flowers (1998), Nagel (1994) and Doerger (2004) among others, have introduced Daoist wisdom to the classroom. They have shown how it can be an inspiration to both teachers and students, emphasizing Daoist values of compassion, moderation, and humility to allow for gentleness (rather than strictness), patience (rather than impulsiveness ), and flexibility (rather than rigidity). All these serve to nurture harmonious instruction and learning. The Daode jing says, “Those who understand others are intelligent; those who understand themselves are enlightened” (ch. 33; Lin 2006). A teacher diary study fulfills this need of understanding not only the world around us but also our relation to the world in an introspective manner. It fulfills both needs of intelligence and enlightenment simultaneously. Teacher diaries are written accounts of experiences that teachers encounter not only in the classroom but also in the broader context of their work, such as the administration, colleagues, and the wider professional , even personal, environment. Bailey (1990), Nunan (1992), Jarvis (1992), and Bell (1993) are notable linguists who acknowledge the practical benefits of teacher diary studies as well as their wide-ranging applications for the professional development of teachers. The entries are examined for recurring patterns leading to insights that advance personal-professional development. In addition, these studies are an effective and thorough means of attaining balanced selfperspectives , and give teachers the courage to challenge previously held rigid opinions that merely lead to burnout and limit intuitive opportunities to cope with adversity. I have undertaken several diary studies over the past decade, and found them considerably helpful in paving the way to new insights. In one study, I applied The Art of War to education (Jeffrey 2010); in another, 154 / Journal of Daoist Studies 8 (2015) the 36 Stratagems (Jeffrey 2013). I then decided to undertake one applying the Daode jing to teaching, given that this classic lays the foundation to the philosophies of both the other works. I worked with this over a period of three years (2011-2014) while teaching at the Academic Bridge Program of Zayed University, Dubai, United Arab Emirates. One of the greatest challenges of undertaking this study was the need to embrace an appreciation of the inherent formlessness of Daoism, as well as the subtle interplay...


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pp. 152-164
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