Tag Archives: Buddha

Makha Bucha Day 2018

Makha Bucha Day 2018

Celebrations at Panyaden

Panyaden International School teachers and students celebrated Makha Bucha Day, an important day in the Buddhist calendar, starting with the Makha Bucha song by Year 1, role plays by Year 2-7 which acted out the Buddha’s sermon, ‘do good deeds, avoid bad deeds, purify the mind’ and finishing up with the traditional vien tien (circumambulation) at the school’s Buddha Sala. See more photos here in Panyaden’s Makha Bucha Day image gallery.

Panyaden Makha Bucha Day 2018 - role play by Year 2-7 (Y2-7) students Panyaden students and staff circumbulate the school's Buddha Sala as part of Makha Bucha Day 2018 celebrations Panyaden students placing offerings at school's Buddha Sala as part of Makha Bucha Day 2018 celebrations

Panyaden 12 Wise Habits 2016

Panyden Wise Habit Mattannuta session at school

Mattannuta

by School Director, Neil Amas

Mattannuta (pronounced ma‐tan‐yoo‐ta มัตตัญญุตา) means ‘knowing the right amount’. When practised, it helps us achieve a healthy balance in life. It is the quality of understanding that, whatever goals we set ourselves, there is an optimum amount of material and non‐material things that we need. It is the ability to assess what is enough, and to know when we are being over‐demanding on ourselves, others or our environment.

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Phra Prom Kunaporn

The Buddha taught that the middle path should be followed by both body and mind. It is a path of neither sensory indulgence nor extreme austerity, but rather one of thoughtful moderation and balance. This does not only refer to specific actions or thoughts in isolation, for example, consuming the right amount of food, but also to achieving the right balance between all the different things we do each day and throughout our lives.

To illustrate this, Phra Prom Kunaporn refers to the importance of balancing the five indriya, or spiritual faculties: conviction (saddha), perseverance (viriya), mindfulness (sati), concentration (samadhi) and wisdom (panya). For example, if our conviction or faith is very strong but we do not use wisdom, we have a tendency to become gullible, a person who follows without question. Conversely, high intelligence but little faith leads to scepticism, and an inability to look inside oneself for the truth. If our perseverance is strong but our concentration is weak, we are likely to become agitated and stressed. Too much concentration and insufficient perseverance, on the other hand, leads to excessive daydreaming or idleness. To find the right balance between these, we need to use the faculty of mindfulness (sati) to observe and manage the impulses that habitually drive our actions and thoughts.

In today’s world of branded ‘must-haves’ and ubiquitous advertising, teaching the new generation how to consume the right amount is very important. Natural resources are stretched and we are experiencing increasing environmental degradation. Understanding mattannuta, therefore, is vital for our students as they grow up and shape the future of our society and our world. Venerable Ajahn Jayasaro counsels that if we think more is better simply in order to make our lives more comfortable, we will end up just wanting more and more and will never be satisfied. His advice is to encourage children to work out the mattannuta point for themselves. Whether eating, sleeping, studying, playing, using the computer or talking, the ability to find optimal balance through self-regulation is a skill which will lead to maturity and social responsibility. This means not dictating the rules to children, but rather helping them see the results of too much sleep – irritability and heaviness – or not enough – drowsiness and the inability to concentrate, or over-eating – stomach ache – and so on. When we ask our children how much sleep they think they need, how much food they should eat, instead of routinely imposing our own limits, they begin to understand mattannuta. If we encourage children to persevere for just another five minutes on a task they are bored with or wish to avoid, or to stop doing something they really crave a little earlier than they would like, this further helps put into focus the pushes and pulls of the mind and the benefits of balance.

Ven. Ajahn Jayasaro, Panyaden International School spiritual advisor
Ven. Ajahn Jayasaro

Venerable Jayasaro suggests that a family which practices mattannuta is one where parents and children are able to come to mutually acceptable agreements. This means deciding how long we think children should watch TV or play on the computer, for example, but also respecting our child’s ability to think for himself and come to a sensible agreement on the right amount of time. When the time has passed, we simply remind our child of the agreement. In this age of ever-increasing ‘screen time’, as adults we also need to reflect on the amount of time we spend on ‘smart’ phones or laptops in the presence of children, and the message we are giving them about what we consider to be important.

Mattannuta means understanding that any goals we set should take into account the optimum balance of supporting factors required to achieve the most beneficial result for ourselves, others and the environment. Practising mattannuta helps us to understand the desires and aversions created by our mind, and that understanding, in turn, increases the peaceful moments we experience. Mattannuta is, therefore, a vitally important wise habit to teach our children, but also to practice ourselves if we are to achieve true balance in our lives.

lotus2 transparentClick here for article in Thai: มัตตัญญุตา

Live and learn: Giving Feedback

Teacher with Grade student, Panyaden School

Giving your child feedback

by Neil Amas, Panyaden International School Director

GivinDSC_1708 Panyaden School Director, Neil Amasg your child feedback can be a precarious act! When we see room for improvement we want our child to know it but without demotivating him or her, causing tears or, in some cases, flat out denial! So what is the best way to give feedback? Here are some tips for parents that came out of our recent teacher training workshop.

The first point to note is how hard it is for us as adults! Most of us find criticism difficult, even when we know it to be true or well-intentioned. The old adage, ‘If it’s true, why get upset? If it’s false, why get upset?’ is good to remember, but not always easy to practice. If our normal reaction is to storm out of the room in a blaze of indignation, we should not be surprised when our little one does the same!

Without honest feedback, kids can’t possibly figure out what to do differently next time. So how can we make sure our comments are helpful? That they motivate instead of deflate?

The Buddha gave advice on this 2,500 years ago which remains true today. He gave us 5 things to remember when criticising another:

  1. It must be true and based on facts.
  2.  It should be said gently, with kindness.
  3. It should be said at the right time and in the right place.
  4. It should benefit the other person/people or situation.
  5. It should be based on goodwill and conducive to harmony.

So, telling your child how he went wrong on a maths problem just before he goes to bed, is definitely not the right time or place! Similarly, pointing out a tiny grammatical mistake in an essay designed to practise storytelling skills might be based on the facts, but it is not necessary if it deflects attention away from an otherwise competent piece of writing and especially if it deflates the morale of a child who is justifiably proud of his work.

At the school’s recent workshop on student assessment, teachers discussed how to give feedback in the classroom. The following suggestions are also based on the work of author and motivation expert Dr. Heidi Grant Halvorson. They complement the Buddhist approach, but are more specifically centred on the child. These apply equally to the home environment, whether helping your child with homework or commenting on any other task.

Mother and child, photo from https://www.scholastic.comFirstly, be truthful. It’s not easy to tell a child that they made a mistake because we know, in some instances, this can cause anxiety. But at the same time we shouldn’t make the mistake of protecting a child’s feelings at the expense of telling them what they truly need to hear. Children also need to take responsibility for what they did wrong. Letting them off the hook just because we don’t want to be too hard on them, or saying ‘you tried your best’ when clearly they didn’t, gives them no motivation to improve. It is how you deliver the message that matters.

Secondly, be specific. Instead of giving general feedback, focus on high impact areas. If you give lots of comments, your child won’t know which one to focus on because she may not yet have the experience to prioritise. If the goal of the assignment is to make a good argument, don’t focus on minor spelling mistakes. Ask yourself, what are the most important skills to build? What worked well, what needed improvement?

Third, make sure your feedback is actionable. Give a concrete suggestion on what could be done differently next time, rather than what was ‘wrong’ this time. Emphasize actions that your child has the power to change. Talk about aspects of performance that are under their control, like time and effort, or the study method which was used. It is important your child feels the goal is within reach.

Fourth, make it timely. Make sure your feedback is immediate and tied to the event. Waiting until the next task will make it more difficult for your child to embed the learning in her memory.

Lastly, focus on the task, not the child or his ability. Instead of saying ‘you did not clearly explain x and y’, say ‘I did not clearly understand x and y’. This helps put focus on the task, instead of judging the child. Make sure you show appreciation for aspects of your child’s performance that are under their control, such as careful planning, persistence, positive attitude or creativity. Praising actions, not some notion of fixed ability, means that when your child runs into trouble later on, she’ll remember what helped her succeed in the past and put that to good use. A child who recalls that something tangible like ‘careful planning’ helped him complete a project last time is more likely to feel motivated than being told he is ‘good at writing’.

And finally, don’t forget the Buddha’s second tip: stay calm! When we give feedback gently, our child is reassured we are doing it from a place of kindness rather than from agitation and frustration!

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Download the Thai version here.

 

Panyaden 12 Wise Habits: Avihimsa

IMG_8449 Panyaden School wise habit, Avihimsa (not harming)

Avihimsa (pronounced awihingsa in Thai (อวิหิงสา)), is a Pali word which means not causing harm. It originates from the Sanskrit himsa, meaning injury or harm which, when a- is added, takes on the opposite meaning, non-harming (a-himsa). Not causing injury or harm has a broader meaning than simply not physically hurting a fellow human being or animal.

To practise avihimsa is not to say or do anything that creates suffering for oneself or for others and also not to say or do anything that creates or encourages the cause of suffering in oneself or others. This includes avoiding words or conduct which provoke negative thoughts or instigate harmful actions. For example, we might say something to a friend which, though not directly hurting them, may lead to angry thoughts and therefore creates negativity within that person’s mind.

Avihimsa relates particularly to the Buddha’s teaching on moral conduct. He taught about the benefits of ‘’right speech’’ and ‘’right action’’ and proposed an essential minimum of 5 moral precepts (sila) for lay people to follow:

  1. To abstain from killing any living creatures
  2. To abstain from stealing
  3. To abstain from sexual misconduct
  4. To abstain from false speech
  5. To abstain from intoxicants

These are not an empty formula dictated by tradition or religious scriptures, but rather a practical means to ensure one’s speech and actions harm neither others nor oneself. They are essential pre-conditions for the development of a peaceful mind (samadhi) and arising of wisdom (panya).

False speech is not only about whether we are telling the truth or lying. It is defined by the intention of one’s speech and whether that intention is against the best interest of the other person or is for personal interest or gain. A child who teases a classmate because she is ‘fat’ may claim she is only telling the truth and so is not breaking the sila. But if the child’s words cause the classmate to feel inferior and depressed, she is causing harm.

Grade students presenting examples of harmful things to avoid
Panyaden students presenting examples of harmful things and actions to avoid

We are teaching our students that avihimsa means not harming others with your actions, your speech and even your thoughts. Whether thinking badly of others or saying something mean to them out loud, we are creating harm. Thoughts of revenge make us unhappy. Gossiping about somebody else, even though they are not in the room, creates a negative mind and atmosphere for oneself and those present. We can use our children’s actions and reactions in the classroom and at home to teach them the negative impact of harming, and the positive impact of avihimsa, such as pointing out how bad an atmosphere is after someone has used hurtful words. Or we can reflect on how much more fun it is playing with friends when there is no teasing or name-calling. We need to help children see negative thoughts as they arise and redirect them to something positive, to encourage them to see the good aspects of others instead of getting caught up in ill-will or resentment. This is using the Wise Habit yoniso-manasikara, or applying the mind skilfully.

Avihimsa means neither physically nor mentally hurting humans, animals and nature. From killing ants to polluting rivers. We want to help our children understand that harming others is unwise, not because it is a ’sin’ or breaks a ‘rule’, but because of the very direct consequences such actions, words and thoughts have on us as well as others. Practising avihimsa creates a community based on trust and good intention, one which knows how to forgive instead of blame. Moreover, making it a habit in daily life will help us to reduce our own negative thoughts, making our lives lighter and increasing happiness.

lotus2 transparentClick here for the Thai version of the above article.

‘Chanda’ by Neil Amas

DSC_1716 Neil Amas, Panyaden School Director

img_7798 Students of Panyaden School enthusiastically showing off their flower arrangements
Students enthusiastically showing off their flower arrangement for Wai Kru Day.

Chanda (pronounced chan-ta, ฉันทะ) means being enthusiastic or having aspiration. It is the desire to achieve a worthy goal, of having intrinsic motivation to apply oneself in order to achieve knowledge, truth or good behaviour.

There is a common misunderstanding that in Buddhism all desire is ‘bad’ and leads to suffering. In fact the Buddha recognised that there are two different kinds of desire. One is desire borne of ignorance, an unwholesome or negative desire (tanha), for example towards an object of greed, which gives rise to suffering. The second is wholesome, skilful desire (chanda), which originates from wisdom, from a clear understanding of the way things are. It means bringing up motivation or desire to do the very best that you can in the present moment because you have a coherent understanding of the benefits, even if the results are not immediately apparent, or are out of your control.

Ajahn Jayasaro, Panyaden School Chiang MaiVenerable Ajahn Jayasaro explains that this is an important principle in the education of children or in the raising of children by parents. We should not be overly obsessed with results, but instead look for quality of action in the present moment. It is natural that as parents or teachers things will not always work out the way we had hoped and we feel disappointed. But when we recognise that there are outside influences that we cannot control, we are better able to put effort into things that we can, such as our own actions and reactions. We water and nourish a young tree to give it the best chance in life, but when it matures the sweetness of its fruit is beyond our control. This is ‘right motivation.’ Venerable Jayasaro cautions that ‘an over-emphasis on results in the future tends to have a number of negative consequences in the present, such as anxiety, restlessness, boredom and dissatisfaction. This very easily can lead to dishonesty because if you feel that something you do in the present is merely a means to get what you want in the future, the temptation to take short cuts becomes very strong.’

As parents and teachers we all want our children to be healthy and happy. We feel naturally motivated to help develop and maintain the best possible qualities and behaviours in them. Chanda is a ‘prerequisite for the job’ of educating children. But if this desire is not wise it may lead to us becoming overly protective – causing our children to become timid and dependent on us – or over-controlling – creating alienation and rebellion.

In the classroom and at home, chanda means encouraging our children to be enthusiastic in developing their own learning and knowledge, to give their best no matter the consequences and to create and maintain good behaviour. Because chanda has to come from the heart and cannot be ‘taught’, the best we can do is create opportunities for children to develop their own passions and interests and help them reflect on how it feels when they put good effort into achieving something. This leads them to generate further motivation. Praising effort over results, encouraging them to try something despite initial reluctance or helping them reflect on the benefits of what might otherwise seem like a boring task – such as tidying their room – can all help generate chanda. At school, we refrain from giving rewards such as stars or treats because this tends to encourage working for a ‘prize.’ Directing focus towards self-assessment and reflection is more likely to cultivate a true love of learning.

Chanda arises from a place of genuine and unconditional love. A sister who helps her younger brother get dressed for school purely out of love and a desire to help him has chanda. A group of students who are enthusiastic about learning a new subject at school solely from their love of learning and desire to work hard at it regardless of the results, are displaying chanda. A boy who happily undertakes a chore because he sees the wider benefits for himself and his family, has chanda.

We all know how precious a parent’s praise is to a child. If we concentrate on celebrating effort, we will help them develop chanda, a wise habit for life.

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Download Thai version here: Chanda (Thai)

Panyaden honours Makha Bucha Day

makha-bucha-day at Panyaden

At Panyaden School, we began our commemoration of Makha Bucha Day on Friday with our P1-6 students sharing the importance of this yearly Buddhist event observed on the full moon of the third lunar month (‘Makha’). This was the day 2,500 years ago when the Buddha taught the principles of Buddhism called “The Ovadhapatimokha” to the 1,250 Sangha followers who came to see him that evening without any prior planning.

Panyaden students talk about the importance of Makha Bucha Day makha-bucha-day-vien-tien makha-bucha-day-vien-tien-1 makha-bucha-day-vien-tien-4

Kru Tee and Kru Sean then led the ‘vien tien’ ceremony at our Buddha Sala where we held flowers, incense and candles (‘tien’) while mindfully walking clockwise around our Buddha Sala 3 times to pay respects to the Three Jewels (the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha) before proceeding back to class.

Later in the afternoon, Phra Ajahn Jiew visited our campus to talk with our staff and children before he delivered a public Dhamma talk on “Happiness versus Suffering”.

makha-bucha-day-vien-tien-5 makha-bucha-day-vien-tien-2 makha-bucha-day-vien-tien-3 phra-ajahn-jiew-makha-bucha-day-visit-7  phra-ajahn-jiew-makha-bucha-day-visit-11

See more photos of today’s activities (taken by Ally Taylor) on our blog:
1. https://www.panyaden.ac.th/february-2013/makha-bucha-day-vien-tien/
2. https://www.panyaden.ac.th/february-2013/phra-ajahn-jiew-makha-bucha-day-visit/

Visakha Bucha Day

Panyaden Commemorates Visakha Bucha Day on 1 June

Panyaden School's main Buddha image on the school campus

Visakha Bucha Day (วันวิสาขบูชา) is the most sacred occasion for Buddhists. It marks three important events in Buddha’s life which are his birth, enlightenment and his passing which take place on the full moon of the sixth lunar month. This year, it will be officially celebrated on the 4th of June. Thais also observe the day as National Tree Day by planting trees around the country.

Panyaden School will begin the commemoration at 8.00am by offering food to monks at the playground before we do the ‘wien tien’ (‘เวียนเทียน’), walking around our Phra (Buddha image) Sala 3 times with candles and flowers in hand to honour the Buddha.

Panyaden School founder offering food to monks in Chiang Mai    Teachers and students of Panyaden School offering alms to Chiang Mai Buddhist monks

Interview with Head Teacher

One School, One Vision, One Team


The Importance of Building Self-Esteem

Michel Thibeault is the Head Teacher at Panyaden School. His belief is that a child’s potential is conditional upon their level of self-confidence. If they have this, Michel asserts, they will go on to become successful lifelong learners, proactive world citizens and responsible caretakers of the environment. “The Buddha taught us to look inside and know ourselves.  This is a very powerful way to build composure and respectful assertiveness.”

“As a teacher, it is very important for me to try and build children’s self-esteem within and outside the classroom, so that they feel valued as individuals. We can only learn as much as we believe we can learn; we can only do as much as we believe we can do. With low self-esteem, we can’t get very far.”

Michel has more than twenty-three years of experience as an educator and senior manager. He is fluent in three languages and has worked with young people in different capacities as a teacher and school principal.

In Canada, after six years as principal of a primary and secondary school, he founded and led an outdoor education centre that focused on building students’ self-esteem through outdoor challenges and teamwork.

Buddha said: “Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own experience and your own common sense.”  Similarly, Michel believes that “learning does not actually take place through listening but mainly through experience, and through verbalizing that experience to support and enrich it. I am very excited to be a part of Panyaden School because this is what we are going to do. We will give the children a chance to experience what we are talking about through hands on projects and the enquiry approach.”

“Good teaching is more a giving of right questions than a giving of right answers.”

Josef Albers (artist and educator)

The above quote was paraphrased on a T-shirt Michel’s daughter once gave him. It reminds him of his own belief in motivating children to explore and to ask questions. In order to bring out a child’s natural curiosity, teachers should not just go through the curriculum but focus on the learning process that takes place.

“It is important to assess each student’s level of learning, interest and preferred ways of learning. With all this information, teachers can prepare activities that will suit the individual child. Then, we have to create situations where children will actually be engaged, be willing to learn what we have to offer. We have to make it appetizing and interesting.”

Changing the Context

What about ‘difficult’ students who do not seem to want to learn? “It is important that all the children know we are on their side; that they are respected and loved as individuals.

“Context is what’s difficult sometimes and also the false belief that ‘other people can make us do things’. In a Buddhist approach we focus on recognizing that we are solely responsible for all our actions. Nobody controls us. We can guide the students to experience this truth by creating an environment that will suit them. Not all students are equal in terms of readiness, aptitudes and desire to learn. Our job is to create and present a variety of activities in ways that will reach all in one way or another. Let’s make the children aware of their strengths and weaknesses as well as their different learning styles and work it out with them.”

This could mean spending a lot of time with each child. “Knowing and understanding each child individually is important; a low teacher-students class ratio is also beneficial. Panyaden plans to have a class ratio of 1:10.

“Language acquisition will be facilitated by the presence of a Thai speaker and an English-speaking teacher with most groups of students. They will plan and teach the lessons together, exposing the students to both languages.”

One School, One Vision, One Team

Michel mentions that the teachers themselves will also be working on their language skills (Thai teachers will learn English and vice versa). Teachers are role models and students will have a chance to see lifelong learners in action.

The different cultural backgrounds of the staff and teachers will also show the students that diversity can work together, that we are all a team or as he puts it. “One School, One Vision, One Team”. This team includes everyone from the support and administration staff, the cleaners and janitors to the teachers, founders and directors.

“We will all need to learn the spoken and unspoken ways of different cultures, and to find the means to bridge them. We know we will encounter challenges. The question is how will we face them? With the ultimate goal in mind: the welfare of the students. Both staff and students chose to come and live the vision that is Panyaden. We need to embody that vision which calls for working together as a team, mutual respect and doing our best at all times.”

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*Michel’s extensive teaching and management experience is on https://www.panyaden.ac.th/team/michel-thibeault/

Source of Josef Albers’ quote: https://hubpages.com/hub/50_Inspirational_Quotes_for_Teachers

Dhamma Talk 2

Dhamma talk by Ajahn Jayasoro, Jan 2011

DHAMMA TALK

on 20 Jan. 2011, 9.45am

We are happy to announce that our Spiritual Advisor, the venerable Ajahn Jayasaro, will be back at Panyaden School next month to share the teachings of Buddha and to guide us in meditation.
Ajahn Jayasaro is well-known for his insightful and moving Dhamma talks. He is also Thailand’s leading expert on Buddhist education.
The talk (in both English and Thai) will take place in our school’s main Assembly Hall. We warmly welcome you to join us.