Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: Moral Tales: A Program on Making Choices for Grades 2-3

Activity 5: Story - The Wise Teacher's Test

Part of Moral Tales

Activity time: 5 minutes

Materials for Activity

Preparation for Activity

  • Read the story a few times.
  • Consider telling the story rather than reading it. Practice telling it aloud. You may find it helpful to close your eyes and to picture the place where the story happens, and to observe the action and characters in the story as if you were watching a movie.
  • This story does not lend itself to audience participation during the telling. However, you may make it more interactive by choosing several places to stop the telling to ask questions of the children. Examples might be, "I wonder what those students were talking about, outside the gate?" or, "I wonder how each of you would feel if your school principal told you that you had to steal to keep the school going?" If you use this "stop and go" method of storytelling and inquiry, you will need more time to tell the story, but you probably will not need to do Activity 6, Dramatic Exercise - What Happened Next? which follows the story.

Description of Activity

In the story, "The Wise Teacher's Test," a Buddhist teacher offers his students a lesson by testing them. He pretends that their school needs money, and tries to convince them that they must steal money in order to keep the monastery going. Students at this age are concrete thinkers and will probably want to discuss the idea that a teacher would condone stealing. You may like to introduce the story by telling your students that Buddhist stories and teachers often use tricks, tests and riddles to help their students to learn something for themselves.

Tell the group they are going to hear a story from the Buddhist tradition that will help to show them what conscience is. Indicate the Moral Compass poster. Show them how the arrow says "goodness and justice" and that it now is pointing to "Inner voice".

You may also wish to tell the children that there are five Buddhist simple rules of conduct (the Precepts) that lead to happy and peaceful lives for all who practice them. The second Precept states "Respect others' property; take nothing that is not freely given to you." You may wish to compare this precept with the eighth Commandment from Hebrew scripture, "Thou shalt not steal."

Take time to make eye contact with each person in the room before beginning the story. Take a deep, calming breath and then begin.

When you have finished telling the story, sound the chime or other instrument to signify that the story is ended.