Towards an Authentic Classroom Environment with a Teacher Diary Study Based on the I Ching, the Dao De Ching and the Zhuangzi

  • David McLachlan Jeffrey Sichuan University - Pittsburgh Institute, China


This report shares the experience of a teacher undertaking an introspective teacher diary study to embrace the wisdom of the I Ching (also known as “The Book of Changes”). This was in order to infuse the classroom with Daoism for an authentic environment. The diary’s  insights emerged through five methodological processes: (1) Daily introspections with the I Ching, the Dao De Ching and the Zhuangzi (thereby inspiring the prompts for the diary writing), (2) meditation (to calm the mind), (3) participant-observation (supporting spontaneous flexibility in the classroom), (4) the Microsoft Tools Program (which served to match thought patterns in diary entries), and (5) yin and yang, wuwei, ziran and qi (which helped embrace Daoist principles). These processes led to the discovery of eight Daoist-inspired principles for what is considered here as an optimal classroom atmosphere: (1) The functionality of blending yang-directness and yin-indirectness (balancing instruction with inspiration), (2) the virtue of choosing authenticity over authoritarianism (to inspire humility), (3) the significance of selflessness (encouraging spontaneity over impulsiveness), (4) the recognition of the fullness of emptiness (to open the space for creativity to flourish), (5) the value of compassion, frugality and humility (which nurture gentleness), (6) the usefulness of emotional detachments (for enhancing adaptability to unforeseen situations), (7) the tangibility of leadership by example (engendering trust), and (8) the wisdom of simplicity (avoiding excessive complications).

Author Biography

David McLachlan Jeffrey, Sichuan University - Pittsburgh Institute, China

David McLachlan Jeffrey is a South African instructor in Sichuan University - Pittsburgh Institute, China and has taught English as a Second Language in Japan and Saudi Arabia. He has a deep fascination for Asian philosophy, and believes that it can be applied with success by teachers worldwide.

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