A Taoist Walk in the Woods

There’s a Chinese proverb that claims, “I hear and I forget; I see and I remember; I do and I understand.”

But for modern students to understand to Taoism, NOT DOING is sometimes the key!

Okay…I’m attempting to get a little too clever.  To understand this fascinating paradigm, I force my students out of the room and into the woods.  Which I guess, is doing.  Whoops!

YOU’RE GOING TO LOVE THIS ACTIVITY!  The student prompt is below the image


The Taoist Walk 6 points

Taoism is all about finding the way or Tao. This could be found through contemplation or just stop trying to force everything. One aspect of Taoism is harmony with nature. To be in harmony with nature, one has to be in tune. This is accomplished through using your senses in a non-judgmental way. When you are in nature, you need to listen, smell, look, feel, and keep your mind still and wide open.   There is a whole subtle world that exists without your awareness.

Today, we are going to ignite our awareness. We are going to take a slow, conscience walk on our beautiful cross country course. We will walk at the same pace keeping 20 yards behind and 20 yards ahead of our classmates. While on this walk, suspend judgment and labels. Also, refrain from talking. Open your senses and don’t disturb others. Experience the course for the first time. It is a gorgeous autumn day. Allow nature to come alive and teach you. Embrace the Tao!

Consider the following prompts during the walk, and then record your reflections on the back when you return:

  1. What was the most powerful sensation during the walk?
  2. Had you ever been on this path behind the school? If so, did you experience it differently this time? If not, what was your impression of the walk?
  3. What did you hear on the walk?
  4. What did you smell on the walk?
  5. What did you think on the walk?
  6. How did you feel on the walk?

What a Teacher Can Learn by Watching Hard Knocks


I played high school football. I also coached it for 15 years. What I never liked about the sport, was how few games there were in comparison to what seemed like endless practice sessions. I love HBO’s series “Hard Knocks” because it’s all about practice…training camp to be exact.

I especially like the show because it’s so rich in terms of relationship dynamics. Even though these are professional athletes, coaches and ownership are constantly searching for ways to motivate their players. A big part of this effort is creating relationships amongst the players, and between the players and coaches. To a large extent, it’s what the show is all about!

This season focuses on the Atlanta Falcons. Here’s 54 second trailer. I have to say, I’m not impressed with what I’ve seen so far. Atlanta underachieved last year, which didn’t sit well with their sulking, melancholy owner Arthur Blank. He was particularly upset when his players did not retaliate in the first game last year when their quarterback was cheapshoted. So this year, he’s instructed head coach Mike Smith to instill a level of aggressiveness in practice. Blank stomps around the sidelines scowling. The players respond by constantly fighting…apparently what they’ve been encouraged to do!

I’ve watched other episodes of Hard Knocks and there’s always some fighting, but this was over the top. It’ll be interesting to see how this series progresses. I can’t imagine, at this point, the Falcons playing like a team…a family.

As I watch, I think about my style of teaching. There are similarities between coaching in the NFL and teaching high school. High school teachers and coaches are trying to help young people be the best they can be. I would never foster such a confrontational atmosphere in my class. I would never create an every man and woman for him or herself mentality. I don’t think it’s constructive, or productive. I’m fascinated to see where this goes!

“You’ve Gotta Connect”