David Bruce: Resist Psychic Death — Education

Education

• In the late 1950s, Eileen Birin taught at a parochial school in Dallas, Texas. She had an unmotivated 7th-grade student named Scott, who received all F’s on his report card. He even received a lecture from the monsignor because of his grades. The next day Scott went to school with his face a mess of black, purple, and black bruises. He also wore a bloody bandage on his head. One of the students told Ms. Birin that Scott’s father had beaten him because of all the F’s on his report card. Ms. Birin felt awful, of course, but she began teaching and assigned the students some math problems to do in class. While working on the math problems, Scott rubbed his face, and part of a bruise disappeared from his face and appeared on his hand! Ms. Birin looked closely at the “bruises” and discovered that they were really made of make-up. She told Scott, “You’d better go to the washroom and get that gunk off your face.” Scott washed his face, and over time his grades improved, and although Ms. Birin has not seen him for a while, when the credits roll after she sees a movie, she looks for his name among all the make-up artists.

• A man went to a monastery and asked a monk a question about Buddhist teaching. Because the monk was silently meditating, he did not reply, so the man went away, angry. The next day, the man returned and asked a different monk the same question. The monk gave him a long answer, but the man was furious at the length of the answer and went away, still angry. Again, the next day the man returned and asked his question of a third monk, who was aware of what had happened the previous two days. This monk gave a medium-length answer, but the man accused him of treating the matter sketchily and again went away, still angry. The third monk explained the matter to the Buddha, who replied, “There is always blame in this world. If you say too much, some people will blame you. If you say a little bit, some people will blame you. If you say nothing at all, some people will blame you.”

• Amy Votava teaches children about accepting other people, including fat people. She tells them about an experiment in which children were shown drawings of a child of normal weight and of children with handicaps and of a fat child. Children said that the depiction of the fat child was a depiction of a person who was “lazy, dirty, stupid, ugly, cheats, and lies.” Not all children, however, feel that way. After teaching one group of kids about body size, Ms. Votava told them about the experiment and then asked, “Now that you have had these lessons about body size, what would you do if you had to pick the least likable child?” One girl raised her hand and replied, “I would say, ‘How can you expect me to do this when I have no idea who these people are on the inside?’” Ms. Votava remembers, “Thirty-nine other heads nodded in unison.”

• When Rabbi Joseph Telushkin was a student at Yeshiva University, a certain professor was blind, but was still able to teach because he had memorized so much of the Talmud. This professor had one small problem — he knew the name of only one student in the class, so he called on that student every day to read and explain the part of the Talmud being studied that day. This was driving the student crazy. One day, the professor, as usual, called on the student to read the text out loud, but the student spoke up, disguising his voice and saying that the student the professor had asked for wasn’t present that day because of illness. “He’s not here?” said the professor. “Then you read the Talmud out loud today.”

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Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

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