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Started by ddeubel in Websites / links / access to new resources / communities.. Last reply by Nadeem Nawaz Jul 16, 2019. 102 Replies

We are now in our 3rd edition of "Site of the Day"! Hundreds of the best sites for teaching/learning. See #1 and…Continue

Tags: collection, list, web 2.0, resources, websites

ABCs - Alphabet Resources or Ideas?

Started by NEWS NOW in Teaching and Methodology. Last reply by Amelia Meirizka Jun 20, 2019. 73 Replies

I guess the alphabet is our bread and butter.Got any good ideas for teaching it or using it…Continue

Tags: children, abc, kids, phonics, reading

Learning Designs

Started by Elise in Teaching and Methodology Mar 27, 2019. 0 Replies

I was wondering what you all thought of learning designs pertaining to English language teaching? What are the ways in which you design your lessons to achieve better learning in your students?Continue

A NEW way to teach PHRASAL VERBS so that your students understand and remember them

Started by Andromeda Jones in Teaching and Methodology Dec 31, 2018. 0 Replies

Phrasal verbs are a verb + preposition, adverb or particle. Teaching…Continue

Tags: prepositions, teach, verbs, phrasal


 I'd like to share in this forum and would like others to share, short stories that might apply to education / teaching and that will inspire. I believe stories and a narrative are powerful, whether in our classroom or for our own professional development and reflection.

Find my whole collection of inspirational stories in video HERE.  You might also be interested in my Zen and the Art of Teaching series.

Here is my other series for professional development - Learning Through Stories.

Downloads: 3911


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This story is very "wise" and really teaches us that there are many ways to see the world, there are many "cultures" , all equally valid and to be cherished and respected. A great story to share with your students and to see what they say.
Thanks to Sara Rosales - I found this on her great blog!
The Wise Teacher and the Jar.doc

The Wise Teacher and the Jar

There was once a very wise teacher, whose words of wisdom students would come from far and wide to hear. One day as usual, many students began to
gather in the teaching room. They came in and sat down very quietly, looking to the front with keen anticipation, ready to hear what the teacher had to say.

Eventually the teacher came in and sat down in front of the students. The room was so quiet you could hear a pin drop. On one side of the teacher was large glass jar. On the other side was a pile of dark grey rocks. Without saying a word, the teacher began to pick up the rocks one by one and place them very carefully in the jar. (Plonk,plonk). When all the rocks were in the jar, the teacher turned to the students and asked, “is the jar full?” “Yes, teacher, the jar is full” said the students.

Without saying a word, the teacher began to drop small round pink pebbles carefully into the large glass jar so that they fell down between the rocks. (Clickety clikc. Clickety click). When all the pebbles were in the jar, the teacher turned to the students and asked, “Is the jar now full?” The students looked at one another and then some them started nodding and saying, “Yes, teacher, the jar is full” said the students.

Without saying a word, the teacher took some fine sand and let it trickle with a gentle sighing sound into the large jar (whoosh) where it settled around the pink pebbles and the dark grey rocks. When all the sand was in the jar, the teacher turned to the students and asked, “Is the jar now full?”

The students were not confident this time, but the sand had clearly filled all the space in the glass jar, so a few said, “Yes, teacher, the jar is full. Now it's full”.

Without saying a word, the teacher took a jug of water and poured it carefully, into the jar. (Gloog, gloog). When the water reached the brim, the teacher turned to the students and asked. “Is the now full?” Most of the students were silent, but two or three ventured to answer, “Yes, teacher, the jar is full. Now it'is”.

Without saying a word, the teacher took a handful of salt and sprinkled it slowly over the top of the water with a very quiet whishing sound. (Whish.) When all the salt had dissolved into the water, the teacher turned to the students and asked once more, 'Is the jar now full?' The students were totally silent. Eventually one brave student said, 'Yes, teacher. The jar is now full'. 'Yes,' said the teacher 'The jar is now full'.

The teacher then said: 'A story always has many meanings and you will each have understood many things from this demonstration. Discuss quietly amongst yourselves what meanings the story has for you. How many different messages can you find in it and take from it?'

The students looked at the wise teacher and at the beautiful glass jar filled with grey rocks, pink pebbles, silver sand, water and salt. Then they quietly discussed with one another the meanings the story had for them. After a few minutes, the wise teacher raised one hand and the room fell silent. The teacher said: 'Remember that there is never just one interpretation of anything. You have all taken away many meanings and messages from the story, and each meaning is as important and as valid as any other'.

And without saying another word, the teacher got up and left the room.

This story is a famous zen tale. It speaks to us teachers with a message that we have to not just know how to teach - know the mechanics BUT we have to be able to do this artfully during the struggles, conflicts and change of the day to day classroom. We have to be able to teach "in the real" .


After winning several archery contests, the young and rather boastful champion challenged a Zen master who was renowned for his skill as an archer. The young man demonstrated remarkable technical proficiency when he hit a distant bull's eye on his first try, and then split that arrow with his second shot.

"There," he said to the old man, "see if you can match that!" Undisturbed, the master did not draw his bow, but rather motioned for the young archer to follow him up the mountain. Curious about the old fellow's intentions, the champion followed him high into the mountain until they reached a deep chasm spanned by a rather flimsy and shaky log.

Calmly stepping out onto the middle of the unsteady and certainly perilous bridge, the old master picked a far away tree as a target, drew his bow, and fired a clean, direct hit. "Now it is your turn," he said as he gracefully stepped back onto the safe ground.

Staring with terror into the seemingly bottomless and beckoning abyss, the young man could not force himself to step out onto the log, no less shoot at a target.

"You have much skill with your bow," the master said, sensing his challenger's predicament, "but you have little skill with the mind that lets loose the shot."

This story is from the writings of Chuang Tzu.
Chi Hsing was a trainer of fighting cocks.
For King Hsuan,
he was training a fine bird.

The king kept asking if the bird were ready for combat.

"Not yet", said the trainer.
"He is full of fire. He is ready to pick a fight with every other bird. He is vain and confident
of his own strength."

After ten days, he answered again,
"Not yet. He flares up when he hears another bird crow."

After ten more days.
"Not yet. He still gets that angry look and ruffles his feathers."

Again, after ten more days.
"He is nearly ready. When another bird crows, his eye does not even flicker.
He stands immobile like a cock of wood. He is a mature fighter.
Other birds will take one look at him and run."

So glad you started this up again... I missed the summer ones ; )
I have noticed that you put here a story of the stolen smell (with my favourite character Ōoka Tadasuke). I love the stories of this incorruptible judge as I used to read them when I was a child. The book is gone and I would like to recall it...
Don't you know any others? Please, please:-))
George -

As usual - you have impeccable taste. I will try to find some more although my library of zen stories is back in Canada. Just like a real Samurai, I will find a way!


Glad you are finding some enjoyment in these....

What makes a great teacher?

I used to teach Grade 4 in a lonely, small portable. One of my fondest memories of those tough teaching days is always having the students scream and exhort, "Tell us another story Mr. D!" They loved my stories and I think I taught them so much through stories, plain oral storytelling.....

Teaching is about negotiating, collaborating and working together. Not pushing on in your own manner. We have freedom only in so far as we know the length of our chains (and mutual dependence on administration, parents, students and other shareholders). Today's story - THE RIVERS and THE SEA highlights this.

The rivers were a disgruntled lot. They had started out as tiny clear streams high up in the mountains and meandered through valleys and plateaus and plains. Their waters had swollen up during monsoons and had then reduced to a trickle during summer. But on the whole, they had flourished.

And now, at the end of their journey, they had to merge with the sea. They would lose their precious freedom forever.

And yet, they couldn't stop themselves from flowing, could they? So they flowed till they reached the sea. "This is too unfair!" they said sadly to each other. "It's bad enough that we have to merge. It is worse that our sweet and drinkable water becomes terribly salty and tasteless when we merge with the sea."

The sea heard the rivers and looked amused, "If that's the way you feel, I see no point why you should join me at all. Go away, and enjoy your cool, sweet waters by yourself."

Of course, there was no way the rivers could do that. Even if by some miracle they could change their course and not flow into the sea, their very survival was at stake. For, very few rivers lasted on their own without uniting with the sea. Most dried up and died. What use was independence if one did not live to enjoy it?

So the rivers made peace with their situation and flowed into the sea.
Today, I'd like to share a very personal story. A story told at the U. of T. commencement address in the 1980s (which year eludes me - I'm getting old!) by Gyorgy Faludy. My mentor - an Hungarian poet, writer, educator, thinker without equal. Read more about Faludy here. Here are some photos of his last days - 96 and loving life with his 30 year old bride. I highly recommend his poetry and especially his autobiography - "My Happy Days in Hell".

Faludy recounted his days in the early 1950s in one of Stalin's concentration camps. He tells us teachers the true meaning of our profession, the true "coal" that burns and steams our engines.

"People were dying every day. They'd come in and drag them out daily.New inmates would take their place. Sometimes, men just walked into the mist and fell down - for no apparent reason.

Somehow word got around camp that "Faludi", the poet was there. Inmates kept coming up to me and getting me to recite some of my verses. My own or Villon (for my translations were well known) or Shakespeare etc...). Soon enough I was holding a daily session in the courtyard. Ragged, thin as a whisker men would listen in rapture. And soon enough, we began talking about the poems, then talking about other ideas. Soon enough, we were all expounding on our own fields of knowledge. One inmate was a specialist in physics - he told us of Newton and the wonders of the sub atomic world. One inmate was a painter. He'd tell us about his beloved Matisse. Hours of tales of this amazing man.

Other inmates ridiculed us, scorned our group. However, it continued to grow despite the bullying and derision. We'd meet and discuss.

And a funny thing I realized. The men they were taking away, dead, gone, every morning ----- they weren't from our group. Somehow, the curiosity and hunger for knowledge, somehow this community of "knowing" was an invisible shield keeping away the grim reaper. It was sustaining and it will always sustain those who follow its light. I survived the camp. You can too."
Why do you sit in your room?
Do you write? Meditate?
Do you study or just rest? Who knows?
For I have never
spied on you. But sometimes, late at night, you call me
and we go out to walk because the sky is full of stars.
George --

So beautiful and well chosen words. You will never be the same once you've crossed that Rubicon that is Faludy's mind and words. Bar no translation - he speaks to each and every heart and the naked human condition.

One book he wrote in his later years. Just a journal he kept while older, hidden away in a rich friend's cabin - Notes from the Rainforest - is a gem. Faludy is the most romantic of poets - but not in our most facile of Western ways. He blends a surreal honesty to his romanticism.... he not only gets you to admire the beauty of fire but also to be burnt by it...remember it. He also has an ancient Asian sensibility to just throw out an image and let the reader figure it out, let the reader fill it out.

I wish I had my library here. I'd share my favorite poems of Faludi, those to his second wife who died on Malta. Sonnets of extreme beauty, words do not do justice... My favorite poem if you ever do get to read it is from his Anthology East and West - Ave Luna , Una Morituri, te Salutante. ( Sacred Moon, even in death, I salute you).
It is too bad, I don't get to anything more than what is on the internet. Unfortunately there are maybe ten poems of his and that's all...
So if you ever return to your library don't forget about me - already owe me two things: Ōoka + Faludy ;-))

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