Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Buddhism and R-Rated Movies

I don't let my daughters watch R-Rated movies.  Their ages are 3, 6, and 8.  Truthfully, I'm not even sure they're aware of R-Rated movies yet.

When I was a kid, there was a time I wasn't allowed to watch R-Rated movies either.  I don't ever remember there being a hard and fast rule.  But it was understood that there were some things I wasn't supposed to see.

One evening, I was home alone.  I turned on the TV, and Arachnophobia was on.  (I just went back and rewatched the trailer.  ...I was freaked out by a John Goodman/ Jeff Daniels movie?)

I shouldn't have watched that.  Did I run up to my room and pull the covers over my head?  Maybe...  Did I think that maybe there were spiders under the blanket and jump back out of the bed?  ...Maybe...

Why wasn't I allowed to watch R-Rated movies as a kid?  Why don't I show my daughters R-Rated movies?  And what does this have to do with Buddhism?

If you were in class today, you should be able to answer all of that.  If you weren't you could at least discuss the first two questions.

If you're struggling, think about what Siddhartha Guatama saw on his walk.  Think about the way he was raised.  Those hints should move you along.

You could earn a little extra credit if you read and discussed the blog with an adult.  If you've done this, write a couple sentence about your discussion.  Am I right to keep my kids from seeing R-Rated movies?  What about Siddharta's parents?  At what point should they grow up?  Is that a choice I have any control over?  Do you feel like you've grown up?  What does this have to do with suffering?

Once you write out your thoughts, have the adult you've read and discussed the blog with sign the paper.  Turn it in tomorrow.  (Double check, make sure your name is on it.)

Monday, March 30, 2015

Suffering: The Pink Eraser

Buddhism and Hinduism have many similarities.  They both believe in karma, dharma, they both believe in reincarnation, and that there is an end to the reincarnation cycle - at least for the individual soul.

It's worth noting that even though the religions share these similarities, they don't hold identical beliefs on any... for instance, even though dharma relates to rules and order and teachings, the concept is different between the two religions.

Hinduism and Buddhism are similar much like Islam and Christianity are similar.  They share some concepts, (both Christians and Muslims believe in one God, trace their roots back to Abraham, believe Jesus Christ was a prophet...) but those practicing the religion would not claim they were the same.

One major way Buddhism differs from Hinduism is that Buddhism deals primarily with suffering.  Siddhartha Guatama (the founder of Buddhism) taught that suffering comes from desire.  Buddhism tries to point out how to end suffering.

I think we see this concept played out pretty clearly in children.  How many of us have seen a child throw a fit at the check-out line because they want a candy bar and the parent won't give in?  (In this case, the parent is also suffering, because they want the child to stop throwing a fit...)

I thought about this the other day when my middle daughter Gwen lost her pink eraser.  This was a big deal because it was given to her by one of her best friends at school.  (Maybe her best friend?  ...Kindergarten friendships are sometimes difficult to keep straight.)

Or, here's my youngest daughter.  She's sad because she wants her mommy:

I have a video where I'm crying because I wanted Notre Dame to beat Kentucky, but I've been advised against including it.

In all three cases, people were suffering because they wanted something, and they didn't get it.  What do you think?

If you want the extra credit for reading and discussing the blog with an adult, discuss this with them:  Buddhism teaches that everyone suffers, and that everyone suffers due to desire.  Do you agree?  Why or why not?  Is it possible to end suffering?

When you're done, write a short paragraph about your discussion.  Then, have the adult you discussed with sign the paper.  (Make sure your name, date, and hour are on it.)

Turn it in tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Lakshmi Tatma

We've been writing quite a bit in here lately.  We don't spend a lot of time on it - maybe 15-20 minutes once a week.

Yesterday, students read an article on a girl born with 4 arms and 4 legs.  After they read it, they had to put it away and write a summary of the article without looking back at it.

Today, students graded the summaries.

Here's the article.

It's been a while since that story first appeared, so I wondered if there was an update.  Turns out there is.  Here it is, in case you're interested.

The story ties in with a lot of our social studies content.  For instance you've got the religious aspect - a girl being born with extra limbs in a country with a religion that often depicts deities as having extra limbs.

You've got family and cultural values.

Standard of living comes up often - the family lived on $1 a day.

The fact that we can hear about this story here in the United States is a testament to globalization.

We also worked on maps of India.  There may have been 5 students out of 150 who did not compete this.  If you are one of the 5, make sure it's turned in tomorrow.

If you want extra credit for reading and discussing the blog today, write 3 beliefs of Hinduism on a piece of paper from memory, then have the adult you read and discussed the blog with sign the paper.

Make sure your name, date, and hour are on it.

Then, turn it in tomorrow.

In case you're wondering, I hung up all the civil disobedience pictures.  Doesn't the hallway look much nicer?

Monday, March 23, 2015

Hinduism Kahoot!

Today we played a Hinduism Kahoot.  If you want credit for the extra credit, explain what it is, and how you did.  If you REALLY want to go for it, you could play it.  You'll probably want a computer and some mobile devices.  Have the person on the computer click THIS LINK.  The people with a mobile device should GO HERE.  (kahoot.it) Type in your access code, etc...

You could even tell your friends you're playing.  I think that would work...  Who knows?

If you've done that, write a note telling me how it went.  If you stick to the discussion instead of playing the Kahoot, write me a note about that.  Either way, make sure your name, date, and hour are on it.  Have the adult you discussed with sign the paper.

Turn it in tomorrow.

It'a a new day.  It's a new dawn.  It's a new marking period.  And I'm feeling good.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Caste System

Well, things got pretty heated today - let me tell you.

We've been studying Hinduism and are currently focused on the Caste System.  Yesterday we read an article and watched a video on Dalits - the group formerly referred to as Untouchables.  (There is a lot of readily available information on this group of people.)

The main point of both the video and the article is that the caste system, although illegal, still influences India today. And, the Dalits are heavily discriminated against.

I draw parallels to discrimination in our own country - that even though we have anti-discrimination laws, many groups still face discrimination here.

Today though, we looked at the Indian Social Structure Pyramid (also called the Caste System Pyramid) and I asked the question, "Is there a caste system at CJHS?  If so, what does it look like?"

(Here's the Indian Social Structure Pyramid, by the way:)

I received many answers, but the two that came back most often dealt with authority and popularity. 

In the authority version, the principal or superintendent is on the top, and the students are on the bottom.

In the popularity version, you've got the popular kids at the top, and the unpopular kids at the bottom with various "castes" making up the pyramid, determined by the author/artist.  (Are "Preppy Kids" at the top?  Athletic?  Artistic?  Intelligent?)   ...This is where the class got heated.  Some students contended this was a Hollywood contrivance - that we're all more complicated than this.  True enough, there are kids who are involved in athletics, music, the arts, etc...  So, where would they go?  Others said that yes, it's overdone by Hollywood, but cliques still exist in Jr. High.

I don't have time to mention all the ideas that came up: castes by grade level, or one that had the students at the top, because everything is about them.  Concord is a student-centered school.  We're here to meet the needs of the students.  (While that may be true, I don't think it address the social structure of our school.)

What do you think?  If you've read and discussed this with an adult, write down a paragraph based on your discussion.  Write down thoughts pertaining to India's former (remember it was outlawed in 1947) caste system and the social make-up of CJHS.

Then, once you've written the paragraph, have the adult you read and discussed with sign the paper - proving that you've read and discussed it.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Civil Disobedience Pictures

I've graded the civil disobedience pictures, so even though we've moved into studying Hinduism I'm posting several.  Check them out.  Discuss them.  Explain how they're portraying civil disobedience.  Then, vote for your favorite.

If you want extra credit for reading and discussing the blog, you should talk about some of these pictures with an adult.  Tell them what's going on, why, and how they show civil disobedience.  Then, in the comments, tell me which one is your favorite and why.  (If for some reason it won't let you post a comment, you can write out your choice and let me know...)

Make sure to tell me who you are in the comments section.

If you have friends on social media, you could remind them about the extra credit.  Believe me, some of your friends could use the help.  Also, feel free to repost your favorite picture.

If you didn't finish your picture, you should probably consider doing that.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Simplify, Simplify

I don't teach Thoreau when I teach civil disobedience... but he's there of course - hiding, just behind Gandhi.

So, I feel like it's appropriate to use his quote for the title of today's post - even if I'm not taking his advice to simplify.

I took his advice in the classroom - or I tried.  That is, I tried to make it simple in there.  There are a lot of deep and difficult concepts when teaching about God or gods; about the supernatural, and what various cultures believe about it.

A couple years ago, I published my "Plenty to Discuss" post, which is one of my most frequented posts on the blog.

In it, I discussed what we are as people - and ideas that different religions hold to.  And I shared this picture:

The 3 Ways a Person is Viewed

I'm not going to go into everything I talked about there, but I want to point out how over-simplified it was.

All the religions we've studied so far hold that there is a "View 3: A TRUE You."  It's not how you see yourself, it's not how other people see you... it's how or what you really are.

But in a theological sense, even this is confusing.  Am I who I was at 5?  At 25?  No, I'm not.  Not mentally, not physically.  The cells in my body have regenerated.  (In Crash Course World History 36, John Green criticizes "Me From the Past" saying.  "Oh, Me From the Past, You're an embarrassment to our family.  Also to all our other selves."  I also like the quote from Elliott Smith, "People you've been before that you don't want around anymore - they push and they shove and won't bend to your will...")

So, in light of eternity, what is the "True View" of a person?  Is it the person they were when they were 5 or 50?  Is it the person they were at their death?  And if there's a God, or karma, how does it deal with that?  What do Christians and Muslims and Jews and Hindus believe about this?  And is it important?

It's also worth noting that "View 2: The Way Others View You" is more complicated than it's made out to be.  ...Because, I've had students who thought I was great, and I've had students who (mistakenly, right?) thought I was boring or mean.  And we lump them into the same group of "The Way A Person is Viewed by Others..."  It's not static, because we're all individuals.

It's a lot to think about...  But I try to take Thoreau's advice in class.  I try to keep it simple.

As was the case last time - and every time - there's plenty more to talk about, but it's the weekend.  If you want extra credit, you were supposed to read and discuss this blog with an adult.  If you did this, write a couple thoughts from the post on a scrap of paper.  Then, have the adult you read the blog with sign it.  Turn it in when you return to school on Monday.  See you then.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Previous Post

I like some of my previous posts on Hinduism, so I'll be sending you there for the next couple of days.  Much of what we did in class is the same, or will be when we get to it.

This way, I can enter the grades of your essays, and Civil Disobedience pictures.  Who knows?  Maybe I'll even get a chance to hang them up.

For the extra credit today, GO TO THIS POST FROM 2012.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Civil Disobedience Pictures Due Tomorrow

I'm not a big fan of homework.  I think I've given 5 assignments so far this year.  ...If that...

So, today after a little bellwork on Gandhi, students worked on a civil disobedience picture.  I gave the majority of class to complete the picture.  Most students were able to complete it.  Some were not.

For the students who did not complete the picture, take this time and go finish it right now.

If you weren't in class today, you may download the instructions HERE.

If you're wondering about the extra credit, don't.  Just make sure the picture is finished.

I'll give you extra credit for showing up to the blog if you write this code phrase on a piece of paper and have the adult you read and discussed the blog with sign it.

"It is not always the same thing to be a good man and a good citizen." - Aristotle

(However, if the picture isn't finished, I'm not counting today's extra credit.)

Monday, March 9, 2015

Gandhi's Assassination: Some Comparisons

Gandhi and King:

I have previously posted some of the similarities between these two figures.  You can read about it here.  I don't know if I mentioned how similar they were in death.  ...Two day's before Gandhi's assassination, he said, "If I am to die by the bullet of a mad man, I must do so smiling.  There must be no anger within me.  God must be in my heart and on my lips."

And King, in his famous, "I've Been to the Mountaintop" speech said, "Well, I don't know what will happen now.  We've got some difficult days ahead.  But it doesn't really matter with me now, because I've been to the mountaintop.  ...Like anybody, I would like to live a long life.  Longevity has it's place.  But I'm not concerned about that now...  I've seen the Promised Land - and I may not get there with you, but we as a people will get to the Promised Land.  So I'm happy tonight - I'm not worried about anything.  I'm not fearing any man."  King said this the day before his assassination.

It says speaks to their preparation, does it not?  To their convictions, their principles?  Add that to their long list of similarities.

Comparisons on other assassinations:

Of course, we can also compare the assassination of Gandhi to the assassination of Prime Minister Rabin in 1995, or the assassination of Anwar Sadat in 1981.  In all three cases, these leaders were assassinated because they were working toward peace.  Members of their own groups felt they would give too much away - and the pendulum would swing too far to the other side - giving their enemies the upper hand rather than bringing about peace.

If I have a class where some students still seem baffled as to why a Hindu (Godse) would kill another Hindu (Gandhi) when it seems like they should be on the same side, I ask them this question:

Have you ever been friends with two people who don't get along?  And have any of you been in the situation where one of those friends comes up to you and tells you that you have to choose?  Who are you going to be friends with?  How do you decide?  What do you do if, while stalling one friend starts making fun of the other behind their back?  If you join in, you're in trouble with the other friend.  If you don't join in, are you taking their side?

Maybe you said to the person demanding you make a choice: why can't all three of us be friends?  Why don't we try to work it out?

And what if  that friend replies, this is impossible?

That was the situation Gandhi was in.  And when he continued to argue for peace between Hindus and Muslims, Godse interpreted that as Gandhi having made up his mind - and siding with the Muslims.

If you want extra credit tonight for reading and discussing the blog talk about what Gandhi decided to do.  Did he make the right choice, or not?  Could he have done anything differently?  If so, what?  Have you ever been in a situation where you were caught in the middle?  How did it work out?

When you're finished, write a paragraph of some thoughts from your conversation.  Have the adult you read with sign the paper.  Turn it in tomorrow.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Previously, On This Blog:

If you want the extra credit today, hop on over to THIS POST.

Follow the instructions over there.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Gandhi and Plate Glass Windows

Gandhi (and The Indian National Congress) are moving closer and closer to independence from the British.

There are a couple ideas Gandhi reiterates throughout his life.  Essentially, he says that the Indians are upset with the British, because the British do not treat Indians as equals.

But, Gandhi says, Indians do not treat each other as equals.

In the movie, Gandhi said that before Indians could (or should) try to gain independence from the British, they would need to, "prove worthy of it."

Gandhi outlined 3 things that had to happen for a successful independence:

  1. Hindu/Muslim Unity
  2. Outlaw "Untouchability"
  3. Defy the British
India was ready to defy the British, but was it ready to accept Gandhi's challenge to get along internally?

When I was a kid, my mom went to the store to buy a gallon of milk and maybe some other groceries.  My sister was upstairs reading, and my brother and I were out in the yard playing.  I'm not sure what all happened, but I know that he swore at me, and then I spit on him.

He told me he was going to spit on me back, so I ran into the house and locked him out.

Our back door had a huge plate-glass window in it.  He started pounding on it, saying he was going to break it if I didn't let him in.

I, of course, was willing to do no such thing.  I laughed at him and went upstairs.

He kept pounding on the window.  My sister, concerned, told me I should probably go downstairs and let him in.

Just as I got to the door, his fist came through it.  Glass went everywhere.  We were both barefoot.  

His clenched fist hung in the air on the other side of the door as he said, "I... I told you I would break it."

Before my mom left, I remember telling her that we could handle it.  Surely, she could leave for 5 minutes and get a gallon of milk.  The grocery store was only a couple blocks away.  "We'll be good," we said.  "Trust us."

To my students: If you want the extra credit for reading and discussing the blog, you were supposed to have read and discussed it with an adult.  If you've done this, find a scrap of paper and explain what my story has to do with the Indian Independence Movement.  How are they similar?  Is it a fair comparison?  Do you think the Indians are ready for independence?  Why or why not?  (I would discuss all of this with an adult before writing it down...)

When you're done, have the adult you read and discussed with sign the paper.

Turn it in tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Deep In Thought

I listened to Dr. James Loewen speak several times over the past few days.  I went to hear him both in Elkhart and in Goshen.  A lot of what he said ties in with what we're studying.

I want to talk and write about it.  But there's so much going on that I don't want to rush it.

Of course, I still want to offer extra credit to my students for reading and discussing the blog with an adult.

So, this post is short.  Tell the adult you're reading with what happened in today's portion of Gandhi.

When you're done, write a 3 sentence summary of today's portion.

Have the adult you discussed with sign the paper.

Then, turn it in tomorrow.