Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Lost Sensei

"Sensei (先生?) is a Japanese title used to refer to or address teachers,professors, professionals such as lawyers, CPA and doctors, politicians,clergymen, and other figures of authority.[1] The word is also used to show respect to someone who has achieved a certain level of mastery in an art form or some other skill: accomplished novelists, sweepstakers, musicians, and artistsfor example are addressed in this way. The two characters that make up the term can be directly translated as "born before" and implies one who teaches based on wisdom from age and experience.[2]" -- Wikipedia

It was a snowy day in Northern Indiana when a friend and I began to discuss our childhood role models and the differences between ourselves and our siblings who are nearly a decade younger than we are. As we sat and discussed the psychology of how our siblings developed based on the difference in their family dynamics because of their age difference and lack of a sibling that could function as a peer, we began to delve into the idea of a mentor in their lives. In an ideal society, we both agreed that every child would be assigned a non-familial mentor. A teacher who, not only would help the young mind develop, but would encourage a child to seek outside of the norm. As we discussed this idea, we became more and more aware that in the US and likely many other countries in the world, there is a certain gap between the young and the old that grows wider with time. Children and their elders do not embrace the discomfort of the age gap but instead seek relationships with people who are experiencing similar stages in life. Would it not be ideal and wonderful to live in a society where upon reaching a certain age, you were assigned to a child based off of your own similarities and differences and then you were able to reach new levels of understanding based off of these relationships. Instead of dying with a wealth of wisdom and knowledge that never had the chance to cultivate and grow, you can sow the seeds of your experience as well as gain true understanding of yourself.

So I end with a question to this long string of random thought. Where has the desire to learn gone in the hearts and minds of today’s society and moreover, in what ways can we ever hope to know ourselves if we instead insist on living and dying in a constant state of comfort?

1 comment:

  1. It's funny you say that.
    The mentor model was heavily practiced in ancient India. The young princes and other boys from the higher social classes would be sent to a "guru" to learn all kinds of things, from battle strategy to sword fighting to the art of ruling. Often these gurus would become powerful politicians themselves in their disciples' courts. The catch was that that these kids would be spending years together under the guru at his house, serving as his apprentices. There are still a few schools in India that are run this way.