What do my high- school students remember after two years of my teaching English and History?
My former students, aged 17 to 18, High School, Salzburg, Austria, did their final exams in June 2002 (class 8a; I had taught them English and History for two years-
-17 students in English - the other group had a different English teacher) and 30 students in History. After the exam, during the fare-well party in the evening, I asked my former lovely students to answer two questions of mine, in written form, regarding my teaching: Questions A and B:
A. What have I learned for life during my English lessons?
B. What will I remember on my death bed?
Many of them, to my great delight, amidst the party, took the pains to write down a few sentences : Let me quote a few examples:
1. S. K.: girl (In English).
A. I have come to know about different cultures, different realms, visions, dreams and viewpoints.
Through this I have gained new opportunities to solve problems, and to find alternative ways.
I have learned to monitor my feelings and thoughts, express them and ask myself: Why do I feel like this? How do other people feel in similar situations? ( Bold letters are mine).
B. One of the greatest fears human
beings can suffer from is death.
The others are birth, ageing, and
illness. At the time of death I will have
experienced all of these- so I
don't have to fear death " it
might not be the end, but a new start.
2. C. R.- girl. (original in German):
How to get on with other human beings; to approach other human beings openly and without prejudice;
to respect their opinions. I have learnt a lot about myself and therefore I am extremely thankful to you! (a drawing - "a smiling face).
B. Buddhism: I don't have to be afraid of dying when I look upon death as part of my everyday life and when I am looking forward to one more interesting experience.
3. T. Sch. boy
A. A different approach to various problems. We have learnt about things which, I believe, we would not have heard about in our future life. My horizon has certainly been widened because of your totally different approach to various problems.
B. In sorrow seek happiness.
( Edwin- This is a quotation from "The Brothers Karamasov."
I hope that I will not have to think of Hamlet: " I have had a good living, but I have never really lived." ( Edwin: This is snot Hamlet, but a Kuebler Ross quotation about a terminally sick patient and one of her last words on the deathbed.
4. P.S..- girl. Translation.
A. To have an interest in the needs of other human beings. Not to concentrate myself on myself only.. To be able to approach other human beings openly.
B. " My character is my destiny." (Edwin: Quotation from the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad). Self-realization is the only way to attain happiness.
5. M.P. -girl
A. To think independently and to be open to everything that life brings:
Different cultures, languages, a lot of different and interesting people. Joy + love!!
Once upon a time there was a teacher who brought an inspiring spirit into our school-lessons. I THANK HIM SO MUCH !! (smiling face).
6. H.R. - boy
A. Being open and tolerant towards new things. No quick and hasty judgements
about people and situations. The basis of forgiving is understanding.
B. Though I am convinced that planet earth will continue to spin around itself once I am gone, I do hope that I will have lived in such a way that I will be content with both, my life and with myself.
7. K.- girl
A. To look behind facts and to question lots of things.
B. (No answer)
8 D. P. girl
A. It is up to each one of us-to some extent- to shape our own lives. One should enjoy each beautiful moment and one should learn from negative experiences.
B. This is a very difficult question, because I have not been in this situation yet, but I think at the moment of death my whole life will pass in front of my eyes and I think…( Edwin; I cannot read this sentence).
9 E.M. K.- girl
A. Seeing a problem from all sides;
Looking at others without prejudice; never to stop seeking for new things to learn. Combining
Mr Szigeti's (Edwin: teacher of psychology and philosophy- different worldview to myself)
view of life with that of Mr Zappe - I think I am still trying to!
B. The Tibetan book of Living and Dying (Edwin: by Sogyal Rinpoche) - death is a prerequisite of life; I will remember life and its beauty at that moment-
I will close my eyes and behold this beauty.
10 S. boy; translation.
A. Learning from the womb to the tomb; one should work on one's character-building. If one treats other human beings nicely, they will also treat one in the same way.( Edwin: A quotation from Persia: " If your word is sweet, you will conquer the whole world; wherever you go, you will win the hearts of people." Or " I am a mirror and whoever speaks of me, nicely or badly, he(she) will always speak about himself (herself)- Omar Khayam.
11. M.M. -boy
A. The most important: One should never look at a situation from only one angle and should not forget that there are other things to consider. (Edwin: Confucius: "A gentleman can see a question from all sides without bias; the ordinary man is biased and can see a question from only one side."
B. Dr. Kuebler Ross: I hope that I will be able to say that I have lived deeply and then I will be able to pass peacefully to the beyond.
12 G. K. girl, translation,
A. I have learnt to see other human beings impartially and also not to judge them according to their skin-colour or their origin.
B. I hope I will remember the most beautiful moments of my life (now I am unable to think of anything concrete).
13 D.- boy, translation
A. It is not so important to know a lot, but to know the important things I life and to think properly. All action is the fruit of life. (Edwin: a Buddhist saying).
B. Search for knowledge from the cradle to the grave. (Edwin: this is from the Quran).
14. K and Ph. girl and boy together:
A. Things can be seen from different angles and will give different perspectives.
B. Two quotations: 1. Ideas have consequences. ¦2. Where there is suffering there is holy ground. (Edwin- Oscar Wilde).
15 S.E. girl, translation
A. There are also other human beings, not only Austrians.
We have managed to evolve from the Mental Consciousness into the Integral Consciousness.
B. I believe that death is not the end!!!
16. D. L.-girl
A. I cannot remember what I said in my oral exam, but I simply have learned that it is important to be open and to be aware of one thoughts at any given time.
B. My character is my destiny.
17. S.S. - boy
A. I have learned a lot about other cultures and religions. It is important to overcome my ego in order to be able to love the other one ( my fellow being).
B. I hope to have lived a life similar to the one of a Zen Buddhist: living in the present.