Teaching kids...!

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Teaching kids...!

Postby dspiewak » Wed Dec 23, 2009 6:23 pm

I have been placed in a very difficult situation of having to assist my local bhantes with their Sunday School class. Difficult for me, especially, because I am awkward in social situations, I have never been 100% comfortable with children, and I don't know much about the culture or language of the Sri Lankan families whose children make up the entirety of the class.

To be fair, that last bit is especially why I was asked to help: these children (ranging in age from 6 to 14) are heavily Westernized and speak English as their first language. The bhantes are the most dedicated and generous people I've ever known, but I think they feel that their command of English and understanding of American mannerisms are not strong enough to connect completely with the children. While I recognize I am not the best possible choice to do this job, I feel like stepping dramatically out of my comfort zone is exactly the right thing to do for me.

I've already had one session, which was both challenging and incredibly rewarding. It's a fine line I need to walk because while the bhantes can speak to the children in the same way as a parental authority, I know I cannot do that. I know I'm on the right track with some of the things I'm doing (encouraging them to talk and share their own experiences has been really great) but I think I need more help keeping their attention with material. I think I'm doing better with the older kids (who want to talk) than the younger ones (who mostly want to be talked to). I get that part of the purpose for this Sunday School is to give some cultural continuity to the younger generation, but I know I can contribute.

So mostly, I think I need stories that can help illustrate simple Dhamma concepts. Lots of them! The bhantes seem to like Jathaka (past lives of Buddha) stories, and I am seeing that they are important to Sri Lankan culture. Does anyone know of any good resources for Jathaka translations? Anything else?


Thanks and metta!
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Re: Teaching kids...!

Postby Ben » Wed Dec 23, 2009 9:48 pm

Hi dspiewak

How to Teach Buddhism to Children: http://www.pariyatti.org/Bookstore/prod ... cfm?PC=378

Jataka Tales Teacher Resource Guide: http://www.pariyatti.org/Bookstore/prod ... cfm?PC=881

Kindness: A Treasury of Buddhist Wisdom for Children and Parents: http://www.pariyatti.org/Bookstore/show ... 104&step=2

Life of the Buddha, Part I & II: http://www.pariyatti.org/Bookstore/prod ... fm?PC=1104

Treasury of Wise Actions: http://www.pariyatti.org/Bookstore/prod ... cfm?PC=893

Entire Pariyatti Children's Category Catalogue: http://www.pariyatti.org/Bookstore/show ... 104&step=1

I'm not sure what the above are like but in your situation I would check them out. If you can't afford to purchase these, they maybe available via your local library or via inter-library loan.
kind regards

Ben
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saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

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Re: Teaching kids...!

Postby Kim OHara » Wed Dec 23, 2009 10:01 pm

dspiewak wrote:I have been placed in a very difficult situation of having to assist my local bhantes with their Sunday School class. Difficult for me, especially, because I am awkward in social situations, I have never been 100% comfortable with children, and I don't know much about the culture or language of the Sri Lankan families whose children make up the entirety of the class.
... I think I'm doing better with the older kids (who want to talk) than the younger ones (who mostly want to be talked to). I get that part of the purpose for this Sunday School is to give some cultural continuity to the younger generation, but I know I can contribute.

Ben has already given far better resources than I could, so I'll just address these two bits, from my background as a teacher. Suggestions:
* Remember that children are people and treat them as people, not as a foreign species.
* That said, most kids are nicer people than most adults. Enjoy their company.
* Your own genuineness is the key to working with them. If you hide behind a role or fake persona, they'll know and they won't trust you.
...and just from the teaching point of view,
* Young children need quicker turnover of activities than older ones, but you can always keep going as long as they're still tuned in.

Hope this helps,

Kim
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Re: Teaching kids...!

Postby dspiewak » Thu Dec 24, 2009 4:09 pm

Thank you enormously for your suggestions. I will put them to use.
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Re: Teaching kids...!

Postby meindzai » Sun Jan 10, 2010 7:02 pm

Jatakas all the way man. Jatakas jatakas jatakas. Don't even mention the four noble truths.
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Re: Teaching kids...!

Postby retrofuturist » Mon Jan 11, 2010 12:43 am

Greetings,

meindzai wrote:Jatakas all the way man. Jatakas jatakas jatakas.


As long as they're framed correctly as the fables they are. I would hate to see people brainwashed into thinking they are Buddhavacana.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Teaching kids...!

Postby meindzai » Mon Jan 11, 2010 1:30 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,

meindzai wrote:Jatakas all the way man. Jatakas jatakas jatakas.


As long as they're framed correctly as the fables they are. I would hate to see people brainwashed into thinking they are Buddhavacana.

Metta,
Retro. :)


True, enough - though I have met at least one person (who also studies Abhidhamma) who takes them literally. How they reconcile that I have no idea, though I admire the effort.

The point really is to teach about generosity, wisdom, etc... Positive qualities, rather than bumming kids out with "all things are impermanant, life is suffering..." At least not so directly...I know when I was a pre-teen I picked up a book on Buddhism, saw the four noble truths, and put it down. Didn't take a second look until many years later when I was ready to address those more profound issues.

The Buddha is an excellent folk hero. Bhante Gunaratana was told Jataka tales as a child by his mother. One thing I've always admired about Bhante G. was his enourmous admiration for the Buddha. You can tell just by the way he lights up when he talks about the Buddha, like a kid gets excited when he talks about Superman or something.

There are other stories from the canon itself that would probably be good too. Off the top of my head the story from the Sutta "Insult" comes to mind http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn07/sn07.002.than.html.

-M
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Re: Teaching kids...!

Postby retrofuturist » Mon Jan 11, 2010 1:44 am

Greetings Meindzai,

I agree completely... morality, brahma-viharas and such are definitely the way to go.

:thumbsup:

Along those lines, the stories from the Dhammapada commentaries may also be worth a look.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Teaching kids...!

Postby Paññāsikhara » Mon Jan 11, 2010 7:19 am

retrofuturist wrote:
Along those lines, the stories from the Dhammapada commentaries may also be worth a look.

Metta,
Retro. :)


Just what I was going to say.
http://home.nethere.net/dsparks/narada/index.htm

And you can always just find any good stories with a moral in them, too.
Things don't always have to be "Buddhist", so to speak.
My recently moved Blog, containing some of my writings on the Buddha Dhamma, as well as a number of translations from classical Buddhist texts and modern authors, liturgy, etc.: Huifeng's Prajnacara Blog.
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Re: Teaching kids...!

Postby retrofuturist » Mon Jan 11, 2010 10:07 am

Greetings,

Ven. Paññāsikhara is cool. 8-)

He knows where it's at...

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Teaching kids...!

Postby dspiewak » Wed Jan 13, 2010 6:21 pm

Many thanks, Bhante. I remember relating one of those stories in a previous class, but it never occurred to me to investigate them on their own for source material.
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