Buddhism and the ‘middle way’

As the next part of our lessons on ways of thinking and living in China, we discussed Buddhist ideas about seeking a ‘middle way’ of living that is in harmony with the world and causes no harm – a way of living that also seeks to avoid greed and selfishness that might arise from thinking we are more important than everybody else. Does this make sense, we asked? Is it desirable?  Is it achievable? Here are thoughts from Myah, Sylvie, Kaliyah, Mohammed, Archie and Faisal.

Myah. I do think that the idea of the middle way makes sense because if you go the low way it means you decide not to take opportunities that lay in front of you which I don’t think is right. And if you go the high way, you will take everything and become spoilt and rich and have nothing to do but lay down and think about what will come your way next.

Kaliyah. I think the middle way is perfect because then you don’t get too much or too little of anything. Greed and selfishness are big problems in the world because we have many homeless people who have to beg for money. If we weren’t so selfish and greedy, we would just give money to them or buy them something to eat. Some people are so selfish that they just walk past them or pay no attention to them whatsoever. I think it would be good if people were both Daoist and Buddhist because you would be caring to both nature and people…. and in harmony with the world properly.

Sylvie. I think achieving the middle way would be quite a hard thing to accomplish. Because if you’re homeless with about £2 in your pocket you can’t create a middle way if you’re begging for scraps of food and you wouldn’t have the resources to create this ‘middle way’. Life, I’ve got to say, won’t let you have a middle way. People go through hard times and you can’t make yourself think it’s all going to be fine and nothing’s wrong, trying to make life how you want it. I think people are too greedy because they just create this excess, waste and destruction in their path. Sometimes natural greed comes in simple ways like you’re really hungry and there’s only one chip left in the box and you know you’ve had more than anybody else and you still take it. AND people who are greedy take all the money for themselves and leave people starving – possibly to death.

Mohammed. I think the middle way would never work because everyone is different and has their own way of living. To think of others before yourself is nicer than thinking of yourself straight away. Some people will be rich and/or selfish and some people will be poor and/or kind – but we are all people so why turn away from each other?

Archie. It does make sense to me but right now I don’t think there will be a perfect world – maybe one day, but not now. I feel it could be realistic but with all the terror attacks going on right now it doesn’t look like it will happen any time soon. I think greed and selfishness are both problems and solutions in their own right. Greed can be good because some people says it gives the world new technology but bad because it causes bad actions like violence. Selfishness is good because in some people’s cases it causes success in life. Nina argues the same, saying ‘I think you shouldn’t have too much greed and selfishness… but a little greed is normal and natural’.

Faisal. I think the middle way is a great way to end fighting and I think it could end world war and create world peace. I think that nobody can change who they really are and that it is natural to be greedy and think of yourself before others.

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Somebody or nobody

6CM performed a class poem entitled Somebody or nobody at this morning’s Rosendale ‘poetry slam’ hosted by poet and rapper Breis.

 

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We used Emily Dickinson’s I’m Nobody! and Muhammad Ali’s Last night I had a dream as inspiration and wrote poems about being a ‘somebody’ or a ‘nobody’.  There are a series of poems that respond to one another.  Breis gave special mention to Myah (for her performance) and Jim, Archie and Nathan (for their words).  Later, Breis came into the classroom and read the children’s poems back to them – which was exciting to listen to.

Here are the poems in the order they were performed.

Somebody or nobody?

Why be somebody
When you can be nobody.
Why have fame
And have many know your name.
Why not be backstage –
Instead of in spotlight’s cage.
So why be somebody,
When you can be nobody?

Nina, Olivia and Sylvie

I love to be in the spotlight
I love to have fortune and fame
I love to be up on stage in sight
So people can call out my name.
I love luxury and riches
No matter the cost or price
Sometimes it lands me in stiches
But I don’t mind rolling the dice.

Nell and Sarafina

Sometimes it’s nice to be simple
Who needs fame and fortune
Just to live a simple life
And one you won’t regret.
Who needs to be in the newspaper
Who needs to be on TV
Just live a life – a simple life
And that’s the one for me.

Ellie

I’m great, unlike you!

You crumble like cake
You got jealous of my hair
Whilst you wear a wig
Like Donald Trump
You think you’re so big
I’ll get you a grave to dig
And your wallet’s getting thinner
Mine’s bigger
Like my lyrics

Archie and Jim

We are cool
We left school
We lurk late
We strike straight
We sing sin
We drink gin
We jazz in June
We will die soon.

Caspar and Mohammed

My name’s Nathan
My cut stings
Like a bee
I’m just a wannabee
Stop trying to steal my sweets!
You can’t see me
In my lambourghini
Which is black
I’m black
I’m invisible
So you can’t see me
So stop trying
I’m perfect
So crown me.

Nathan

The spotlight shines on you
For you crave it.
You are a somebody
You hate the gloom
And I’m a nobody
At the back of the room
Watching you walk
Listening to you croak your name.

Ignas

I’m angry, I’m angry
And I just can’t keep it in
I wanna scream and shout
I really wanted to win
Then rain falls down
Filling my shoes to the brim.
How lonely I am
As the anger kicks in.

I’m angry, I’m angry
My life is a lie
My brain keeps teasing me
I wish I could die!
I am so weary
I sleep in day
And wake up to the sound of a light.

I’m happy, I’m happy
I’ve just had an idea
How about I make some friends
And do it with cheer.
Little did I know,
There was someone at the door,
And I didn’t hear.

Myah

Murder in Glamis!

Use independent learning to comment on the newspaper articles by Nell and Mohammed. What do you think about the style and tone? Do they sound like an article you might read in a newspaper? Try to identify all the different tenses they use in their writing. You should be able to find examples of each of the different forms of past tense we’ve studied (past simple, past progressive and past perfect).

macbeth

Murder in Glamis!

Late last night, King Duncan of Scotland died a brutal death whilst staying at Glamis Castle, ancestral home to Lord Macbeth.

It is said that Macbeth himself found the body lying in bed with both guards unconscious and covered in blood and holding daggers. Macbeth is said to have gone into a flaming rage and killed both guards on the spot.

Many people believe that the blame should go to King Duncan’s sons, Malcolm and Donalbain, who were in line for the throne. Both have fled the country, which people think seems to confirm their guilt.

After speaking to some of the king’s private servants, one agreed to tell us what they saw in the room. “It was horrific,” he said. “There was blood on the walls and the bed sheets were dripping in blood.” He claimed that the king’s eyes were white and a dagger was plunged through his heart. Lady Macbeth has said that she is appalled such a thing could happen in her family home. “I have had sleepless nights,” she said. “I constantly wonder whether a killer is right around the corner.”

In Malcolm and Donalbain’s absence, Lord and Lady Macbeth are expected to be crowned King and Queen of Scotland.

Nell

Duncan’s Death!

Yesterday, at Glamis Castle, King Duncan was found murdered.

Duncan was staying at Glamis Castle, which is the home of Macbeth, who the king had just pronounced Thane of Cawdor. It was victory against the Norwegian army that made the king choose him for the position.

The body was discovered by one of Macbeth’s servants. He had two wounds, one to his chest and another to his head. It seemed like the murder was committed by the guards who were discovered dead outside the bedchamber covered in blood. Filled with grief and horror, Macbeth had killed both guards on the spot.

The king’s sons, Malcolm and Donalbain, who are to inherit the throne of Scotland, have run away to Ireland and England.

We asked Macbeth how he felt that someone had killed the king. Macbeth said, “I am very shocked that someone has committed a big crime killing our beloved king in my castle.” Lady Macbeth said that she was scared because the people that killed the king might still be free.

As Malcolm and Donalbain have left the country, Macbeth is now going to be king.

Mohammed

Learning about being a scientist

science-03

We asked the class to round off this half-term’s science project by reflecting on what they felt they had learned about science.  Here are some of the extremely interesting and thoughtful responses.

Sylvie wrote: ‘I have learned that science isn’t about the teacher knowing the answer to the question – it should be about the children finding out for themselves.  It is about trying something new, combining as much information as you can from other scientists, then putting it together into a new experiment.  Use what you know.  Ask the questions that can be useful.  Change the world for good.  But it’s not just about the bigness of changing the world in enormous ways.  You should also do small experiments that add up to a better understanding of the world.’

Sylvie captures the spirit of scientific enquiry – but using science to change the world for good is a great point too (and not one that we much discussed).  Microbiology, as many other areas of science, has so much potential for both good and harm.  Nina said that ‘Science gives us power over our surroundings’ and Zeca that ‘Science is basically everything.  It’s like the future.’  So we must surely want young scientists to give thought to the purpose and goals of science at the same time as generating new knowledge.

Patrick said, ‘I learnt to think like a scientist.’  Caspar, ‘Ask lots of questions and don’t hold back.’  Archie said:  ‘I have learned that in science you can’t really do an experiment once because the results sometimes vary… Science is about doing experiments and finding out new stuff about the world by asking questions.’  

Eleanor compared science to a large experiment with endless possibilities.  Mohammed said something similar: ‘What I like about science is that there is always a new and better experiment.’  And Jim came up with a great idea for continuing his team’s experiment, which was to use yeast to generate CO2 and then use this to see whether mould will grow on bread in an atmosphere of CO2 or whether it needs oxygen.