Inspired by a friend, I recently read “Meditations” by the Stoic philosopher and Roman emperor, Marcus Aurelius. My friend had told me that “The obstacle is often the way“. That idea intrigued me and so I went to the source and read the book that has been sharing wisdom for nearly 2000 years. Here are some of the ideas that I felt applied to the world of education, especially now during our current situation.
The Obstacle: That which makes the obstacle also makes the way. This was one of the central themes of the book. The concept that challenges make us stronger and help direct our energy is a perfect reminder during our shift from face to face instruction to distance learning. This obstacle, this challenge, forced us to think outside the box and create new ways to facilitate teaching and learning. Along with this concept was the fact that it’s not what happens to us that shapes our destiny, it’s how we respond to it. Truly a timeless piece of wisdom.
The Present: The book started with the idea that the present moment is the only thing we can lose in life. The past has already happened and no one can change or take it away from us and the future will happen regardless of what actions we take. Knowing this, we should be mindful and fully present in each moment as we live it, for it is here alone that we can make an impact. Again, with all the stress that comes from not being able to connect with our students face to face, it’s important to keep our mind focused on what we can control, and that is the here and now.
Change: The universe is change. That statement was repeated throughout the book. The universe consists of everything and it is forever in a state of change. A seed changes to a tree which changes again. The body changes from life to death and then helps create new life again. Loss is change and gain is change. Why should we be fearful or sad at change as it is the way of the universe and it is why we exist? It’s pretty heavy stuff! As educators, we should be agents of change as we constantly learn new things, adapt to the needs of our students, and always keep an open mind for new ideas. Even now, we are changing our techniques to meet the changing needs of our students. If there is one constant in the universe, it is change and we should embrace it.
Purpose: His exhortation to know your purpose, reminded me of Simon Sinek’s advice to “Know your Why“. Everyone and everything has a purpose. The sun has a purpose to give warmth and sustain life, the eye has a purpose to see and the foot to walk. When we know our purpose, we obtain fulfillment and happiness. As educators, we know our purpose is to inspire and teach our students so that they will reach their full potential and lead happy and productive lives. Also, when we know and live our purpose, we do so not for gain or flattery, but because it is what we were meant to do. He asks, “Does a flower become more beautiful when given a compliment? Does a good deed become better when we receive praise?“. It’s a great reminder that when we know and live our purpose, we gain our own reward for doing what is right and helpful.
Marcus Aurelius may have lived in a different time and in different circumstances, but his words still ring true today and apply to our current situation. Let’s face this challenge together and with confidence, knowing that change is inevitable and while we may not be able to control our surroundings, we can control how we react. Remember, the obstacle is not in the way, the obstacle is the way!
“The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.” – Marcus Aurelius
“The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts.” – Marcus Aurelius
“What we do now echoes in eternity.” – Marcus Aurelius
- Distance Learning Continues
- Virtual Staff Meetings each Thursday at 1:15 PM
- Staff may enter the building for short (45 min) visits each Friday 8:00-12:00