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July 21, 2012

"The Woodcarver" a Model for Right Action, Free Essay


The woodcarver is a beautiful story written by Parker Palmer. In this story, Parker describes the process by which the woodcarver found the freedom and liberty to create a beautiful stand as a method of deliberation by which we go through the illusion of enchainment and declare our own inner freedom.  Palmer refers to this story as a model for right action, a simple story that shows transcendence in a profession. (Lakes, 2000)
“The woodcarver” a model for right action
In this story the woodcarver by the name Khing created such a beautiful stand that everyone who saw it was astounded. When asked by the Prince Lu, as to how he created such a beautiful stand, Khing said that in order for him to work properly he had to forget about the prince as he considered the prince and his court as a distraction. In this story Palmer states that the woodcarver is not creating the stand for art’s sake but merely to fulfill the prince’s command. (Lakes, 2000)
After reading this story the thoughts and emotions on the story will greatly influence self awareness and effectiveness for me as a teacher. I like the idea that the woodcarver fasted in order to get rid of the oppression posed by the prince and his limitations as they could have acted as a hurdle in his work. From this I can learn that, I must not complete any task in the simple and directive way, and also should not let any distraction or demand from anyone stop me from completing a task. (Lakes, 2000)
The need to win poem by Chuang Tzu, in this poem he mentions that a clear vision requires objectivity. Hence, as a teacher, I should focus more on what needs to be done rather than on focusing on the other aspects of the provided task.  I need to live fully and liberally, if I need to overcome any challenge as a teacher. Incongruously, the more we become deeply involved in a task, the more likely it is for us to fail in our goal. The idea of “letting go” the emotional feeling that we get before performing a task helps in performing the specified task in a much better way. (George Teschner Philosophy Department)
I believe that the secret of the amazing work of the woodcarver is the ability to live from the center of his own creative potential. Now, I feel that remarkable work requires liberty, a pure spirit and an approach of love. The moral of this story is that even within a pressure, distrusting situation, we can claim our liberty, refusing to be influenced by the oppression we still need to respect. (Lakes, 2000)
Teaching different types of students from all over the world is full of external pressures. Therefore, using the context of distrust as mentioned in the story is the best way to get the best work and behavior out of the students. When students feel afraid of being controlled, and when they know that they will be in serious trouble not only for misbehaving but also for not being good enough, they tend to feel trapped in a context of trust just like how Khing feels. Therefore, the students will strive to prove their worthiness again and again, trying to please the teacher, who will be like prince and his courts to them. (Lakes, 2000)
I also feel that the woodcarver was able to take out seven days to create an authentic looking beautiful stand, we, in turn, do not live in a world where we can afford to lose time, we live in a world where the prince not only demands for a stand but various other things as well.  However, there are some aspects of the story that can really contribute in my teaching career.  (Lakes, 2000)
Chuang Tzu’s “cutting up an ox” suggest that if we force our will on a particular task, we become tedious and wear ourselves out, if we go in the way of things, we succeed effortlessly, like the woodcarver who did not focus on the commands of the prince and carried out his own work at his best. The cook still butchered the ox like the woodcarver did his woodcarving, but according to the natural and normal manner rather than forcing the work on himself. (George Teschner Philosophy Department)
I learned that after we get the commands of our prince, we must avoid any thoughts about term nervousness or our contract renewal; I must make myself believe that I am committed to excellent teaching. This story also encourages me to be in touch with my inner sources of motivation, such as what inspired me to come into this field? And what are my teaching goals? I must also be familiar with and reflect positively on my failures. (Lakes, 2000)
      A teacher must reflect thoughtfully on what went wrong and what is the positive aspect of the situation. A teacher is met with several kinds of students; therefore, this story also helps me understand multiculturalism, as I understand that to have a well settled class I must not differentiate between any students based upon their ethnic group or religion as all of them have the ability to provide high standard work. It also encouraged me to know that none of the students mean any harm or have any intention to disrespect me as well and I should forgive them as well, to have a better classroom environment. (The Survival Guide Working Group, 2007)
Unfortunately, the teachers also suffer a context of distrust which makes it difficult for them to sustain their truthfulness in between the many external pressures that they face. Just as the woodcarver was able to tell the prince that he had to forget about the prince before he could start working, I should also allow myself to forget all the external pressures that try to control me, instead I should remain in touch with the original inspiration that drew me to this profession. (The Survival Guide Working Group, 2007)
The story encourages the teachers to overcome the fear one faces while tackling a particular challenge, exterior barriers to success. Fasting in this story is like a metaphor for revising real intentions in performing good work. Just like the woodcarver we do not have much choice as teachers, hence, the teachers must accept what is required and prepare themselves for all the challenges. The teachers must also forget all the stress and bring their mind to stillness, with complete focus on their work, keeping true to themselves. (The Survival Guide Working Group, 2007)
The story shows that the woodcarver had a lot of other attributes that contributed in creating his master piece, this includes the capability to wait tolerantly for insight to come out, the capability to believe on an uncertain decision, the capability to take risky decisions even under stress, the capability to speak truth even if it is something that people might not want to hear, similar attributes are required by a teacher as well which would definitely make her a more than average teacher.(The Survival Guide Working Group, 2007)
As with Khing’s relationship with the forest and the tree, falsifying genuine understanding requires active involvement in general encounters. In a progressive project-related classroom for example: real teaching and learning requires a live situation with the unanticipated, an aspect of suspense and shock.  When these aspects are not present, we may be training or instructing the students but we are not educating them. (The Survival Guide Working Group, 2007)
Just like the woodcarver, I must also transform my profession into an integral practice. With every student, staff that I meet I must take time to listen carefully, make a heart connection and work with skill. I must also look into the beauty of their inner soul and not their outer soul. Most schools deny the future students the deep motivating value of spirituality and transcendence. The woodcarver showed that genuineness in action meant belief in oneself and others, and trust the basic instincts. Although like the woodcarver we cannot see the end result of our work before time, we must like the woodcarver act with integrity and respect, and focus on wholeness free from manipulation and control, I as a teacher must view my encounters with the students in a similar manner. (The Survival Guide Working Group, 2007)
As a teacher I can establish the potential for making a community through identification of the inner realm that will connect the students to loving and caring about themselves. I can offer them stories and poems that allow students to discover truths and viewpoint of other traditions. I believe that I can build a progressive classroom by the spiritual foundations of integrated work by Park Palmer. (Lakes, 2000)            
I believe that if we can accept our vocation, then we can embrace it, shape it in our own way. We can benevolently and intelligently extract the possibilities of what is asked of us. In this way, we can flourish in our profession, not because we are good at it but because we bring beauty and spirit to it. We can perfect our profession by the power of our own inner source. (Lakes, 2000)

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