After completing Teaching from the Middle of the Room, I’ve started writing other books. This one brings wise sayings, quotations, stories, and insights along with commentaries to the attention of readers, especially teachers. The piece below represents one of these:

A Cup of Tea
Nan-in, a Japanese master during the Meiji era (1868-1912), received a university professor who came to inquire about Zen.
Nan-in served tea. He poured his visitor’s cup full, and then kept on pouring.
The professor watched the overflow until he could no longer restrain himself. “It’s overfull. No more will go in!”
“Like this cup, Nan-in said, “you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?” ~Paul Reps, Zen Flesh, Zen Bones, p. 5

How often do we hear a Zen story or a piece of wisdom from another culture and wonder about it? One that provokes us to stop to ponder its implications for our lives and for our teaching.
In Zen stories, the tradition invites us to see ourselves in all the characters. In this story, which person do you connect with initially? Why do you make this connection? How do you feel as this person? How does your actions affect the other?
What would it feel like were you were the other person?
As teachers, how often do we let our opinions and speculations determine the flow of our teaching? When do we step back and allow room for our students or colleagues to get in? Are we full of ourselves sometimes so much so that our cup runneth over, and we do not even realize it?
What would it mean to empty our cup? How would this serve our students and their parents––and our colleagues? How might such emptying help us become better teachers?

See Teaching from the Middle of the Room: Inviting Students to Learn to find more ideas for engaging today’s students. Purchase from Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Teaching-Middle-Room-Frank-Thoms/dp/0615358918

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