Lessons from the One-room Schoolhouse
When asked what one thinks of the archetypal one-room schoolhouse, you may conjure up images of chalkboard writing slates, a countryside landscape, or a small rural community. You may picture one teacher giving lessons to a mixed group of first-years through fifth-year students. And you may wonder: how was one teacher so effective in instilling proper education to all ages within one lesson?
To captivate the diverse audience, the teacher would often introduce concepts through analogies/ parables or stories in order instill wisdom appropriate for each student’s current mental faculties. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain is a story that illustrates how teaching many levels through storytelling or analogy can work. For the younger student, it may represent a fun story packed with adventure. The more mature student, however, may acknowledge the underlying themes of racism and morality. And even though the younger minds may not grasp the deeper concepts in the story, the seeds (of wisdom) are planted, allowing them to blossom at a time when properly nourished (if not instantly.)
Teaching through analogy works because the teacher is able to address the entire group while allowing each individual to grasp the lessons at the level they are capable of understanding. And throughout history, one can see that many kindred spirits used this method, from Buddha to Jesus.
Learning something new has its challenges – that is why teaching through analogy is successful. It allows the learner to connect something known or familiar with the new idea. Acquiring new knowledge can be uncomfortable because it often requires expanding or shedding from what is already known or believed. Learning vs remembering demands a sacrifice from our Ego’s previous attachments, beliefs or ideas. It takes a level of courage to explore new terrain, to question what is comfortable (known), and step into the unknown – which is what we asked ourselves to do each time we seek new experiences/knowledge.
This dive into the deep can be especially challenging when addressing spiritual matters, because it may ask us to depart from beliefs established from our family and/or society (which hold strong emotional/intellectual attachments.) The analogy-method allows the teacher to gently plant seeds of the new lesson, creating a solid foundation for when one is faced with real-world events. In this way, the ground (student’s mind) will be more fertile (open) because the teacher only introduces new material within familiar/safe/comfortable territory. The student won’t feel as though they are swimming up against a waterfall of new information, but making calm strokes upstream.
It is important for the student to be open to the new information and not overwhelmed by it. Being receptive to the new idea provides the opportunity to experience it. The lessons give one the knowledge, but only through a direct experience of the knowledge will the student be in position to pick the fruit – turning knowledge into wisdom….
So, what if we had the Courage to look at the world just as it is? What if we try to expand the lessons from the one-room schoolhouse to include not just a small classroom but the entire world? By broadening our boundaries of one-room schoolhouse to the entire globe, we can begin to change our perceptions of other’s and our reactions to them. We can become more Compassionate and Empathetic toward another.
Some of our stress or suffering is often due to passing judgments of right or wrong, and getting caught up in the way things should or ought to be. This type of stress will start to disperse when we empower an inner Change employing the Wisdom of the one-room schoolhouse. We will see the world through an inner Serenity and truly “love thy neighbor”, not for how we think they should be, but love them for who they are. If we abandon some old belief patterns, we may live the wisdom of the Serenity Prayer;
God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and the wisdom to know the difference.
In practice, it is hard to achieve this state of being, especially if we continue to get stuck in the judgmental loops from the limited boundaries of our perceptions derived by the file folder of our own brains/life experiences (see unlocking the brain’s file folder post).
The Serenity Prayer, and the countless expressions alike, then become cliché. They sound great (ideal even), but the reality is that the sayings are effects of being in and of themselves, and not the roadmap of how to attain that fruitful existence…
In the next posts, we will examine tools on how to develop the Courage to Change our perceptions, Accept the nature of the universe, and awaken an inner Wisdom that instills everlasting Serenity…peace (see Serenity Prayer & Insight post)
- You can eliminate stress due to passing judgements or being shocked by the way others act, if you remember that the entire world is like a one-room schoolhouse.
- If you find yourself stressed due to erroneous views (i.e. “what should be”), take a step back and remember to view the situation from the “others” point of view. Apply empathy, instead of treating others based on what you believe to be “right” or “wrong”.
- When you apply empathy towards others and understand that each individual is acting at a level (of awareness) they are capable of, you are in a position to replace negative reactions or views with a compassionate perspective.
- When you are both empathetic and compassionate toward events/people you become more detached from a singular view/perspective. Your perception is broader, discerning and in alignment with the reality of nature/the way things are.
“It only takes a moment to be loved an entire lifetime. I am grateful to all those who have come before to shine light on the way. I am honored to have met Greg who has blessed me with his grace and wisdom – and taught me the key to wielding the philosophers stone – the gifts that truly keep giving – creating everyday magic within the mundane – I am blessed with gratitude for the Squillante family whom support the center and continue the ripples of love and kindness.” -J
written by Jessica Howard & edited by Emily Esten