For me “shoshin” is a the central concern. As an approach, as a perspective, as a strategy, as a tool. I don’t mean to get all mystical or be someone who just points towards nice sounding Buddhist stuff to seem clever. It’s simply the actual thing itself I wanna identify and talk about, an everyday regular real really reality-based thing, and it’s called ‘shoshin’ in the Zen tradition and is given some pretty juicy attention, value, and ‘respect’ there…

Shoshin (初心) is a concept in Zen Buddhism meaning “beginner’s mind“. It refers to having an attitude of openness, eagerness, and lack of preconceptions when studying a subject, even when studying at an advanced level, just as a beginner in that subject would. The term is especially used in the study of Zen Buddhism and Japanese martial arts.

The phrase is also used in the title of the book Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind by the Zen teacher Shunryu Suzuki, who says the following about the correct approach to Zen practice: “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, in the expert’s mind there are few.”

A related term, shōshin (正真), means correct truth and is used to denote a genuine signature on artworks or to refer to any thing or person that is genuine.

…this post (as with several others I’ve made) is but a trail marker to help me come back and set up camp to go deeper and explain what I mean in action terms with real-world examples later.

Briefly, though: what’s in a name?

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I don’t call myself ‘newbie’ on the blog/twitter flippantly or altogether casually. What I’m indicating/reminding myself of is this central concern, my desired center of gravity for professional action as a teacher trainer. I want to have and maintain ‘access’ to the ever-emergent newness and ‘basicness’ of what we do, how we think, and how we feel in classrooms (and courserooms..hell, just rooms!).

The more I can stay with this mindfulness, I believe, the better I’ll be able to facilitate the teacher learning process on the CELTA course.

It’s so intense and it’s so fast. How can we get where we want to be 4 weeks from now with minimal whiplash?  What steadiness can we access? What’s basic and foundational and solid when everything else is dissolving or exploding or shifting suddenly again and again?

The motion of the ocean shoshin!? 😛

I’d love for folks who’ve read the post to consider a little/easy response below:

If you feel even microscopically inspired, read the ‘shoshin’ wiki definition and simply free-associate what it means to YOU in ELT and/or other regards…

Have a great day!

This entry was posted in Diary Entries Newbieness, Idea Bag Newbieness. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Shoshin

  1. Autumn says:

    A haiku:

    Breaking people down
    To build them back up, Shoshin
    Return to the start

  2. Matthew says:

    I love it! Thanks so much for sharing that…!

  3. Zhenya says:

    Matthew, thank you for the wonderful reminder to appreciate the ‘beginner’s mind’ in what we/I am doing. I agree with the idea that ‘in the expert’s mind there are few [possibilities]’ as it sounds very static. If you are a beginner, a newbie, then so many roads are open. It is also easier to accept one’s own mistakes and falls – and keep walking. Enjoy Shoshin!

  4. shoshin. beginner’s mind. to see a world full of wonder, like with the eyes of a child. to be open to seeing through the eyes of my students. to remember that i am a learner myself, and that i don’t always have to be an expert.

  5. Pingback: Readiness to Begin a Course | Wednesday Seminars

  6. Pingback: A student gives me feedback in 2011 – Muddles into Maxims

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