“Teaching is a fascinating profession because it lays the foundations for people’s future learning. I am proud to see the children grow up,” says Kru Fern, Panyaden’s Year 1 Ladybirds homeroom teacher.
“Before joining Panyaden, I mainly taught students on a one-on-one basis, so being a homeroom teacher is both interesting and challenging for me because I have to manage the whole classroom. I have to continue developing my teaching skills and to be more creative in class.
“My teaching strategy is more like an experimental method. For example, when using games in classrooms, we have to observe how students react and judge if the games are suitable for their learning level or not. So we always have to be ready and have a plan B in mind.
“The most impressive thing as a teacher at Panyaden is when I teach the Thai language to non-Thai students and they are able to communicate in Thai within a few months – reading, writing and speaking. First of all, it is important to teach students positive attitudes and the value of studying Thai. Then, use teaching materials to help their learning such as games, and visual aids. Next, show them how to use Thai in their everyday lives.
“My goal is to continue being a good teacher and looking out for interesting and creative ways to inspire my students to learn and love the Thai language.”
Kru Fern also loves the unique natural environment and green architecture at Panyaden.
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:
To abstain from killing any living creatures
To abstain from stealing
To abstain from sexual misconduct
To abstain from false speech
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.
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.
Click here for the Thai version of the above article.
Spotted in Panyaden School Chiang Mai this morning, a man dressed in yellow wearing a chef’s hat…..Overheard at the school assembly hall: “Is the Kung Fu Chef really coming back? Hurray!” cries a kindergarten girl excitedly.
Yes, he’s back! Like her, our other students clearly enjoyed the popular Chef’s weekly visits and lessons about the 12 wise habits last term. Today they cheered and laughed along as they watched a video of the Kung Fu Chef teaching the wise habits to 2 ‘thugs’ played by Kru Mark and Kru Noy. They looked around the hall eagerly for their favourite personality to appear when the show was over. After a few suspenseful minutes, he finally made his entrance to loud applause.
It was amazing to see all our students jump enthusiastically to their feet and correctly recite each wise habit in unison as they performed the Chef’s signature kung fu moves. These moves have proven to be a fun and effective way of helping our children remember our school’s core virtues.
After the invigorating exercise, our drama teacher, Claire, invited students to join her lunch time drama club which this week will be practising a skit about the wise habit, Awihingsaa (อวิหิงสา), which means ‘not harming’ anything or anyone with our words and actions, to be presented at assembly next Monday.
Welcome back Kung Fu Chef! We look forward to more fun learning with you this term.