Saturday, November 22, 2014

High Expectations, by Mara


Shang Rinpoche
Mara Horowitz
As a teacher, I hold my elementary-aged students to high standards. They are all very young and thus their characters are still in the process of being molded by parents and teachers who guide them in what is and is not acceptable behavior. The basic moral codes of not lying and being nice to others are held in high esteem in my classroom.

It takes a lot of effort to ensure that these values are upheld and I must admit to occasionally turning a blind eye to small misdemeanors in the thoughts that if the kids don’t know I know then I don’t have to use the energy and time required to enforce the appropriate disciplinary measure.

This is definitely the lazy approach and I always notice the contrast in Shang Longrik Gyatso Rinpoche’s pedagogical method. Rinpoche will spare no effort in ensuring that his students’ decisions and actions are ethically sound. Rinpoche will not turn a blind eye.

Any group or organization has rules and regulations that participants are required to follow.  The rules at the centre are all about morality. Rinpoche insists on honesty and respect. This is a group that focuses primarily on treating others well.

Too often people tend to deviate harshly from these basic principles when we grow up and are left to our own devices. Once free from the possibility of punishment from parents or teachers, the lines or integrity may blur. Suddenly it may seem okay to lie in order to make a bigger profit or to manipulate a situation so that the outcome falls neatly in your favour. On examination, I realize that there are many instances in my daily life where my behavior would definitely warrant a reprimand had it been performed by one of my students in my classroom. As an adult I have deviated from the exact same rules that I misleadingly try and teach to my students.

It has been refreshing to be able to be a part of and communicate with a group in which such stretches of the truth and bending of the situation in order to benefit oneself are strongly discouraged. It has changed the way I face the world and inspired me to remember those same basic lessons that I am trying to teach my 7-year-old students and to apply them to my own decisions and handling of situations.

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