Through the concept of deconstruction, the philosopher Jacques Derrida argued we do not live in a world of binaries. Derrida contended between words that appeared to be opposites there was no space and they appeared as long/short. One cannot think of long without understanding short.
Lao Tzu made a similar argument in the first part of this poem: “is and is not produce one another.” Ted Aoki, who was an Alberta-based educator, described the essence of things as being embedded in their “isness.” In the second part, Lao Tzu spoke about a teacher being a person who teaches without a need to possess the words he/she speaks and receiving merit for their teaching.
While I was journaling this morning, I thought of teaching’s essential nature, which is less about the words we speak as teachers and the way we comport ourselves.
As a Frenchman, Derrida used the proper to describe how one comports themself. A person can have rhetoric to fool people, but they do not possess good character if their actions are improper and incongruent with their “good speech.” A person of good character is mindful of the words they use and how they sometimes betray their character.
Beauty and ugliness have one origin.
Name beauty, and ugliness is.
Recognizing virtue recognizes evil.
Is and is not produce one another.
The difficult is born in the easy,
long is defined by short, the high by the low.
Instrument and voice achieve one harmony.
Before and after have places.
That is why the sage can act without effort
and teach without words,
nurture things without possessing them,
and accomplish things without expecting merit:
only one who makes no attempt to possess it
cannot lose it.