Vlog #10: Using (Buddhist) parables to frame points in feedback

A couple of quick notes:

  • When I say I’m not framing things with these parables “intentionally” that’s not right – it’s VERY intentional…what I mean is it’s less consciously, explicitly planned than spontaneously added in. The intention is clear: provide a simple narrative frame in order to make the feedback concept salient.
  • If there’s a larger take-away here it has nothing to do with any particular religious tradition, of course. As I mention, the little stories tend towards the universal – just like idioms, which are often really just pill-sized parables.


  • Another little micro-parable I didn’t mention in the video was the same one I referenced in an iTDi blog post in 2015. The teacher was expressing frustration that a certain maxim which a supervising teacher forcefully insisted upon (telling this teacher they must act upon consistently in each and every class) was not, in fact, working out helpfully. I suggested that classes are all different from each other, as well as from themselves in a process of constant (sometimes subtle, sometimes gross, but constant) change and used the “Tip of the Fingernail” parable, asking the teacher to show me their fingernail, etc. just trying to “make a memory”. This is also an image that can illustrate how even the seemingly smallest things in the learning environment and/or interactions in our class spaces can be meaningful, even significantly impactful – so we should put a lot of energy into being as attentive and mindful as possible while teaching, not letting our perception get too ‘tunneled’ on, say, the tech we’re using, or following the plan to the letter, etc.
  • The reason to think about any of this when it comes to feedback/advice for teachers is simply that teaching is the most or at least one of the most complex and cognitively demanding jobs in the world – therefore, whatever input into a teacher’s thinking is intended to enter into that complex system must have high salience if it’s not to simply be trodden upon by the next set of immediate calculations needed just to get through this day.
  • This gives me an odd but sort of fun book idea – ELT teaching principles through the lens of Buddhist parable or something like that. Would you thumb through that? I can sort of see it being published by these guys.
  • I really do find it amusing that I get to say “finally I can use that totally impractical degree I earned!” 😀
  • Finally, just in case anybody is wondering the “Pali canon” to which I refer is best probably most expertly collected, translated, and made accessible for readers online here.

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