I'm in the middle of a Thirty-Day Challenge. This is 14/30.
Welcome to my deep dive into Stoicism and how it can apply to teachers and education.
“For what does the man who accepts insult do that is wrong? It is the doer of wrong who puts themselves to shame-the sensible man wouldn't go to the law, since he wouldn't even consider that he had been insulted! Besides, to be annoyed or angered about such things would be petty-instead easily and silently bear what has happened, since this is appropriate for those whose purpose is to be noble-minded.” - Musonius Rufus
Teachers and school leaders quickly learn that conflict is inevitable. Even with the best intentions, it’s impossible to please everyone.
In the end, we can only control our actions and reactions. When we know ourselves, we can feel confident in ourselves. This confidence will help us weather awkward moments and conflict.
Here are four lessons we can learn from Musonius Rufus.
- Resilience: Learn to accept insults or criticism without affecting your self-worth. Instead of seeking revenge or getting angry, rise above it and maintain your composure.
- Self-reflection: Consider whether an insult or criticism is truly worth our attention. If we remain open to the notion that we can improve, criticism and conflict can help us become better teachers.
- Humility: Being annoyed or angered by insults can be seen as petty. After 25 years of teaching 8th graders, I've learned that my ego isn't helpful. It’s best not to take things personally.
- Nobility of purpose: Perfection is unattainable. That being said, trying to be noble-minded pays off. This means embodying patience, understanding, and fairness in our interactions with students and colleagues. One of the best ways to teach is to lead by example.
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