Not all classrooms have 4 walls and your teachers can wear many different kind of uniforms…
Chiang Mai this week was the best place to learn philosophy, music, science and sport.
- Learning philosophy with Buddhist monks
This was probably the highlight of our stay in Chiang Mai. The chance to exchange with monks and learn about their culture and their way of life.
At the back of the temple of Wat Chedi Luang are a couple of tents with very big posters inviting you to “Chat with monks”. You help them practice their English, they answer everything you always wanted to know about them …
My kids took the deal pretty seriously. My 7 y.o. son wanted to know why they all had their head shaved. Easy one to start with, to get acquainted with the notions of simplicity and humility. Things started to get a bit out of control when he asked the monk why he decided to live in the Temple instead of spending time with his family. The young monk kindly explained his principles of non attachment, and why the men in the temple were different than the ones “in the normal life”.
He explained that monks didn’t work nor cook. My son was stupedied. “You never work ?!”
– no, we don’t make money.
-then no wonder you can’t find a wife! explained my very concerned boy. Seriously at some stage you’ll have to go back to school and consider making a living. And if you don’t even cook who will want to marry you?
-it’s ok said the monk, because it is my choice for now. But you know I am studying like any other man of my age. Every day I am following a normal education and I am also studying Buddhism, in addition. So if I ever want to leave the temple and be among the other people again, I can do it.
–I see. that’s better like that. I have another question. My mum says you never get mad at people. How can you never ever get mad? do you run or do some boxing?
– no I don’t do sports (my son felt utterly sorry for him at this moment). But I know how to control my emotions. When you have peace in your heart and in your mind,you re never angry, he said with a smile.
-It must be a grown up thing. Because seriously sometimes it feels good to punch. Maybe not in the face but at least boxing, you should try someday!
The conversation went on for a good half hour and it felt good to witness this meetup of 2 worlds. The monks we talked to were very patient and they were visibly having fun in sharing their ways with my occidental children.
I wished I had recorded the older monk explaining my 9 yo daughter how to stay in the present moment; how the way she is acting, learning, working now is planting the seeds of what tomorrow will be. “just mindfully plant today the seeds you want to ream tomorrow’. He was a very good teacher, using words and concepts she could easily grasp.
The monks invited my son to stay with them for a couple of days – when he ‘ll turn 12, so he could get all his questions answered. But he gracefully declined ” I am sorry but there is no way I can skip diner and I am vegetarian“. Material considerations will always win ..
2. Learning science with insects and .. elephant pooh!
The Siam Insect Zoo wonders is a small museum with lots to explore: Insects, tarantulas, beetles, reptiles, butterflies ..
The most exciting part was to hold the insects and to be able to see the tarantula from close (enough). The staff is very kind and helpful so we spend a lovely hour admiring the insects and making friends with some weird ones..
Nearby the Insect Zoo is the Elephant Poopoo Paper park
The eco-friendly outdoor museum is worth visiting on a sunny day. We learnt how to make paper products from elephant poop fibers. From the collection of the poop to the making of a lovely bookmark.
The place is very quiet, and the kids loved the DIY atelier. They made their elephant poop fibers bookmark very mindfully – and the fact that they are playing classical music made the experience even more memorable.
I still can’t believe that my children have a hard time cleaning their bedroom but no problem in collecting elephant pooh and working with it .. the irony is not lost on me.
3. Physical Education for 25 km !
We booked a 1/2 tour with Click and Travel.
Our guide was very professional and he made the kids feel super confortable. It was the first time they would ride for so long so I was a bit worry but they loved the experience. We did the family bike tour in the South of the city and I would totally recommend it.
We already have plans to come back to Chiang Mai so feel free to add your tips/links in the comments sections 🙂