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Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Aesop HackEd: Nasruddin's Three Lectures

When I was thinking about stories to do for #AesopHackEd, I started thinking of all the Nasruddin stories that are relevant to education. And then... I started obsessing about Nasruddin in general. Since that all happened on November 2, I decided to take it as a sign: I am doing a #NaNoWriMo "novel" about Nasruddin, Birbal, and other wise guys of the Middle East and India. You can see how that is going here: A Book of Nasruddin and Birbal Stories.

Meanwhile, here is one of the stories that is relevant to education. Nasruddin discovers peeragogy!  I was inspired by a version of the story as told by Idries Shah in The Exploits of the Incomparable Mulla Nasrudin, which is one of four Nasruddin books that he wrote. You can find all of Shah's books free to read online at the Idries Shah Foundation website. I first read Shah's book The Sufis 30 years ago, and I have been learning from Nasruddin ever since. 

Be warned: Nasruddin stories can be highly addictive.

And for more Aesop Hacked, visit Twitter or our planning document, plus you can browse this blog: my stories so far.




NASRUDDIN'S THREE LECTURES

When Mullah Nasruddin moved to a new town, the people of the town were eager to learn from him. "O Wise One," they said to him, "please speak to us of your wisdom and experience."

"I will present a lecture exactly one week from today at noon," agreed Nasruddin.

The next week at noon, the town square was packed with people who wanted to hear what Nasruddin would say.

"Good people," Nasruddin began. "I must ask if you know anything about the topic I will speak about today."

"No, we do not!" shouted the people.

"Well then," said Nasruddin, "there is no point in addressing people who are so ignorant." And the Mullah went home without so much as another word.

The next day, a delegation came to Nasruddin's house. "Please, O Learned One, we ask that you give us another chance. Will you not give a talk to the people of the town so that we may learn from your wisdom and experience?"

"Well," said Nasruddin reluctantly. "I suppose so. I will present a lecture exactly one week from today at noon."

This time the people were ready. Just as before, Nasruddin asked, "Good people, I must ask if you know anything about the topic I will speak about today."

The people shouted back, "Yes, we do!"

"Well then," said Nasruddin, "if you are already informed, there is no need for my lecture." And once again the Mullah went home without so much as another word.

The people were now even more eager to hear what he had to say, so they pleaded with him to give one more lecture, and Nasruddin agreed. "I will give one last lecture a week from today at noon."

This time the people arrived, even more eager than before but uncertain what would happen. Once again, Nasruddin asked, "Good people, I must ask if you know anything about the topic I will speak about today."

Some people shouted, "Yes!"

Some people shouted, "No!"

"Well then," said Nasruddin, "those who know should instruct those who do not. You have no need of me!"

That was the last of Nasruddin's lectures.



2 comments:

  1. Great story. And it works, just as long as the people really did do their homework that second week and aren't just winging it. But as a teacher, you can sniff that out, I bet.

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    1. This model definitely does not have any good feedback loops, ha ha, which is a big part of what teachers do IMO: we can provide reliable, consistent feedback in a way that is harder for students to do on their own. And in other versions of this story, Nasruddin is clearly a shirker: I read one version of the story when Nasruddin asks his students a history question about Alexander the Great; the story proceeds more or less as here, but the point of the story was that Nasruddin wanted nothing to do with his students and was just trying to get out of having to actually do any work. Tricksters are like that, very lazy and/or greedy, and getting out of doing any work is often Nasruddin's goal. So, I don't think we dare put him in charge of education reform, even though there are some other great teaching stories in the Nasruddin tradition. I'll be sharing some more here for sure! :-)

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