Friday, March 04, 2005

How We Learn (or don't)

I was part of a roundtable discusssion about "cultural production" at York University on Wednesday. I spoke about the importance of the "trickster" for artists and popular educators - something i have been thinking about a lot over the years. It is also something i plan to write more about. For now, though, here's two stories i told as part of my bit:

Once there was a university professor who decided that he wanted to study zen. He travelled to a local monastery. He was shown in to the abbot’s study. The abbot was about to pour himself some tea. The professor stood before the abbot who looked up. The professor explained that he had been studying and teaching in the university for many years and that now he wished to add to his knowledge and learning by studying zen. The abbot nodded and began to pour himself some tea. The professor watched as the teacup filled to the brim and, apparently failing to notice the full cup, the abbot continued to pour. The cup overflowed and still the abbot poured. The professor was reluctant to embarrass the abbot but finally said, “Master, your cup is full and overflowing. It can hold no more tea.” The abbot continued to pour tea into the full cup and said, “Yes. And how do you, who come here with your cup so full, expect to fill it with the teachings of zen?” The professor nodded and smiled and bowed before the abbot.

A friend saw Nasrudin searching for something in the street out front of his house. "What have you lost, Mulla?" he asked.
"My key," said the Mulla.
The friend joined Nasrudin in his search. On their knees they both and looked about for the key. After a time the friend asked: "Nasrudin, where exactly did you lose the key?"
"In my own house."
"Then why are we looking here in the street?"
"There is more light here than inside my own house."

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