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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Buddha in the Classroom: Zen Wisdom to Inspire Teachers.

"The Buddha in the Classroom: Zen Wisdom to Inspire Teachers," by Donna Quesada is primarily a book that long-time teachers, new teachers and students studying for a teaching job will find helpful. I must say, however, that while there are some helpful Buddhist tips for anyone, they are fairly basic and can be found in greater depth in books that are primarily about Buddhism in general. But, for less ardent students of Buddhism, it might just be the right amount of Dharma mixed with career advice.

This book is really geared toward the teaching community, and how they can use mindfulness techniques to keep teaching fresh for both teacher and student. The book advertises itself as helpful to anyone and while that it's true, you have to read through a lot of specific advice to teachers. Still, I can see how the tips the author gives would be helpful to anyone who feels stuck in a rut with their career.

I get a lot of books and this one wasn't horrible but it wasn't great, either. I'm probably give it a 6 out of 10 rating; one being worst on that scale and ten being best.

~Peace to all beings~

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Confessions of a Wanna Be Yogini. said...

Thanks James! I may not be a teacher, but I'm raising an 8 year old, and THIS may just be a perfect start of the year gift to her next years teacher!

Missed your posts as always~


Unpublished Narratives said...

Thanks for the review. I do practice Buddhism and I am a New Teacher so I'll definitely check it out.

Anonymous said...

I've visited your site before, and stumbled on it tonight because I was searching for another copy of this very book, to give to my daughter, who's studying to be a teacher. I'm commenting because I'm shocked at your blasè comments. I don't mean to offend, but it shows lack lack of discernment on your part.

I've been a Zen practitioner for some 25 years, and what struck me about this book was not only her faithful and clear description of commonly misunderstood Buddhist ideas, like emptiness and compassion, but the writing itself, almost poetic at times. Although I'm not a teacher, the classroom stories were still very engaging, and even funny. This is a great service for teachers -- as a practitioner, I'm happy to see a book on Zen and teaching!

Of the three books I found for my daughter on teaching, this one was by far superior. Here's one of the passages that I have marked with yellow--it'll speak for itself:

"When the yogis and the seers from ancient times allowed us a stolen glimpse into their mystical experience, they revealed their wordless insights through metaphor. They pointed the way with poetry, song, or, like the holy men of the desert, through spinning dance. They whispered of the unity behind appearances, pointing out that the separateness we perceive is all a mask, a bewitching illusion, which in the end is only fool’s gold."

Again, I don't mean to offend, just to speak up and say I think is true!
Thanks, Dave

furetosan said...

Guess I'm still creeped out byt thinking of Dharma transmission...

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DQ's Windmill said...

Good morning (or perhaps Good Evening, where you are?) Justin,

I wanted to personally thank you for penning such a thoughtful review of my book. It seems we have similar interests and academic backgrounds!

In today's publishing world, authors take on the bulk of it when it comes to promotion efforts (unless you're Oprah or J.K. Rowling!), so I appreciate the support of friends, both near and far, new and old! The support from the Buddhist community has been heartwarming! And it's also nice to know it's being read across the pond.
Gassho and Kind Wishes,

They call him James Ure said...

@Anonymous...I don't quite understanding why my opinion on this book was so shocking to you. It is merely my personal opinion and preference in a book.

I don't think I was overly critical; just sharing my view on the book. I shared aspects of it that I thought were helpful and laid out how it might benefit some. I'm glad you enjoyed it--as did others. It's not like it was a bad book; as I said in my review.

Authors and publishers ask me to read books and give an honest opinion. I think it would be less discerning and less skillful speech of me to lie about my opinions.

You stated that you thought my opinions on the book showed a lack of discernment. I respect that opinion of yours but disagree. Discernment means the ability to accurately judge something. I don't think it shows a lack of ability to fairly judge/review a book just because I share a different review of a book than you do.

But, just because we may disagree doesn't mean either of us is wrong -- we just share a difference of opinion. It happens all the time in work, family life, personal life and dating life/marriage. We don't have to label people as being incapable of giving a fair review because of those differences. Differences of opinion are just life.

Buddhist_philosopher said...

Heya James. I think your review is a useful balance for some likemine at American Buddhist Perspective. Different books will work for different people. As an academic teacher I was definitely drawn in by her stories and experiences. And, like anonymous, I think her writing alone is worthy of praise.

I do value your review though, it'll help me hold back from shoving the book on everyone I know and expecting them to love it as much as I did :) My teacher-friends on the other hand... look out... - Justin

donnaquesada said...

Hello to all,
Well this is the weirdest glitch - Somehow the note I left to Justin at the "American Buddhist Perspective" blog ended up here! (And under my now defunct blogging name.)

This one I can't figure out!

Anyway, to James Ure, it's all good, as they say! I am most grateful for the excellent reviews and take the mediocre ones in stride. Hey, even Jonathan Franzen gets some 3-star reviews! Even Thich Nhat Hanh gets some 3-stars!

To Anonymous, thank you for your support of my work -- may it serve your daughter well!

To Confessions and Unpublished, we all are teachers in some way! May it serve and inspire.


(Donna Quesada—Author of Buddha in the Classroom; Zen Wisdom to Inspire Teachers)

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