In the world today, with nations and people becoming increasingly concerned over the Covid-19 outbreak, Fo Guang Shan continues to give hope and blessings to the world with prayers and support. During this time, temple founder, Venerable Master Hsing Yun, extended his sincere wishes to the temple community around the world amidst the current health crisis. The Venerable Master, with a tender heart full of compassion, graciously offered an apple to all temple volunteers. Why an apple? It is the beautiful symbolism it represents; the “apple”, in Chinese, is translated to “healthy”, “safety”, and “auspicious blessing”. What a thoughtful offering to make at a time like this!
Hsi Lai temple has also extended this same mindfulness and compassion to the community by postponing all Dharma classes for the Spring 2020 semester to ensure that everyone’s health remains protected. Dharma propagation continues infinitely despite trying times, however, as the Dharma is the beacon of hope to relieve all suffering in the world. To best utilize the time during this semester hiatus, the Dharma School for Kids and Youth teachers will be taking a series of Sunday morning workshops. The workshops, prepared under the guidance and efforts of Venerable Zhi Ching and professional schoolteacher Roxana Daly (also a Dharma School teacher), have been designed to equip the teachers with powerful teaching tools that can be used in the classroom once classes reconvene.
The first workshop, held on the morning of March 1, was off to a strong start as the teachers were educated on cognitive approaches to teaching that are commonly employed in many school systems today. The difference between teaching at a public (or private) school and the Dharma School, however, is that students’ motivations can be drawn by invoking their emotions. Capitalizing on children’s emotions with inspirational stories and lessons which teach the essence of the Dharma can allow teachers to unlock personal drives in students and give them a sense of meaning and purpose.
Methodology was a topic of primary focus during the first class, as Roxana demonstrated how to facilitate class discussions with various types of maps and charts. In addition, teachers were taught how to ask process-oriented questions to conjure students’ innate understanding and deeper level learning. It is easy to simply tell a child what to do, but we sometimes forget that all sentient beings possess a Buddha nature, and children have the capacity to demonstrate knowledge and understanding beyond our expectations.
The workshops will continue for the next four weeks with the goal of giving the Dharma School teachers innovative and effective strategies to build an even more robust classroom learning environment once classes resume. In the meanwhile, we are hopeful and confident that parents will continue forging ahead in their children’s moral education at home, while keeping their families safe and healthy.