Teachers are burned out and continue to leave the profession in droves. One of the biggest challenges is that there’s so much out of our control as educators that we struggle to cope. Even before COVID wreaked havoc on our world, there was little we could do to control what happened in our day-to-day lives.
What if we just let go of what we can’t control and instead focus on what is within our power? That’s the mindset behind this week’s podcast episode with Ryan Racine, author of The Stoic Teacher.
Ryan and I talk about planning ahead for adversity, letting go of those frustrating moments, looking at situations from an outside perspective, and gifting our children with these tools that will serve them well throughout life.
We’ll never know a world where we can control everything. (And do we really want to?) It’s time we take a step back and live and teach from a different perspective.
About Ryan Racine:
Ryan Racine is a high school teacher and college instructor from Canada. He earned his master’s of English language and literature from Brock University and has published in magazines such as Modern Stoicism, PACE, The Ekphrastic Review, and University Affairs. His book, The Stoic Teacher: Ancient Mind Hacks to Help Educators Foster Resiliency, Optimism, and Inner Calm, focuses on how Stoic philosophy can help teachers deal with day-to-day stresses, manage classroom behavior better, and strive to become better teachers!
Jump in the Conversation:
[1:39] – What is Stoicism
[4:06] – How he got involved in Stoicism
[7:35] – Lessons teachers can learn from ancient mind hacks
[10:15] – Premeditating for adversity
[11:52] – Reframing adversity for yourself
[12:57] – Work through self-imposed obstacles
[15:45] – Taking a view from above
[18:30] – How to apply these concepts with students
[22:15] – Explicitly teach Stoicism vs. informal conversations
[24:29] – The importance of modeling with kids
[28:15] – Turbo Time
[29:32] – What Ryan brings to teaching
[30:10] – Fun fact about Stoics
[32:38] – Ryan’s Magic Wand
[34:23] – Maureen’s Takeaways
Links & Resources
- The Stoic Teacher: Ancient Mind Hacks to Help Educators Foster Resiliency, Optimism, and Inner Calm by Ryan Racine
- Getting to Neutral
- Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven Covey
- Zen and the Art of Dealing with Difficult People by Mark Westmoquette
- Troublesome Buddhas YouTube
- Email Maureen
- Maureen’s TEDx: Changing My Mind to Change Our Schools
- The Education Evolution
- Facebook: Follow Education Evolution
- Twitter: Follow Education Evolution
- LinkedIn: Follow Education Evolution
- EdActive Collective
- Maureen’s book: Creating Micro-Schools for Colorful Mismatched Kids
- Micro-school feature on Good Morning America
- The Micro-School Coalition
- Facebook: The Micro-School Coalition
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 0:03
Hello fellow parents and educators. Thank you for joining me at education evolution, where we are disrupting the status quo in today’s learning models. We talk about present day education, what’s broken, who’s fixing it, and how. I’m Dr. Maureen O’Shaughnessy, your host and founder of education evolution, micro school coalition, and co founder of active, I consult and train with schools and leaders who are fiercely committed to changing the narrative, reimagining the education landscape, and creating learning that serves all children and prepares them to thrive. If you are new, welcome to the podcast. Please subscribe on our website to get it delivered to your inbox weekly. If you’ve been around a while, have you left a review?
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 1:07
Hi, Ryan, it is great to have you on education evolution today.
Ryan Racine 1:11
Maureen thanks for having me on.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 1:13
And listeners today I’m chatting with Ryan Racine teacher and author of the stoic teacher, ancient mind hacks to help educators foster resiliency, optimism and inner calm. Wow, Ryan, boy, if there’s ever a time that we need those in education it is now let’s let’s get going and learn with you. The first question, could you just define stoicism for our listeners?
Ryan Racine 1:40
Sure. So if people have ever heard of the word stoic, they probably heard it in popular culture meaning, not showing any emotion. Lower case stoic. I would say that’s a proper definition. Now what I’m referring to is upper case stoic. And what that is, it’s a philosophy of life. And it’s an ancient philosophy. Maybe those who have listened and have studied figures like Socrates before, similar in that same idea that it’s an ancient philosophy that originated out of Greece, and then eventually went to Rome. And basically, it’s a philosophy of what it means to live a good life. And the original Stoic philosophers who were Epictetus. They were Seneca they were Marcus Aurelius, I think he’s probably the most well known stoic. In popular culture, they all wrote and talked about what it means to live a good life. And, again, the thing I love about stoicism, and what it means to be a stoic, it’s a philosophy of life. But it’s not like the philosophy maybe that you studied at university that’s very abstract, maybe doesn’t apply to what it means to be a good person or to what it means to strive to be an excellent person. And, and the Stoics actually gave us tips, like practical tips about what it means to live a good life. And at the same time, they also were open to the idea that this is not the be all end all. Like, you could definitely question us, it’s not a religion or anything like that.
Ryan Racine 3:10
So yeah, the stoics are all about what it means to live a good life, much like Socrates would be. And they gave us, I guess, certain tips to get us to be flourishing human beings. So they talked about the point of life is to reach eudaimonia, which means to be a flourishing person to live your best self. And I’ll get into later on about what the stoics talked about. But yeah, it’s just a worldview. And, again, I talked about this in my own book. And I say, just like any other philosophy, whether it be Zen philosophy, there are things you can take from it. And there’s things you can leave behind if they don’t apply to you. Because again, it’s not the truth. It’s just a philosophy that you can take God and take the practices that work with you and leave the ones that don’t.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 3:55
I love that flexibility. So how did you become interested in stoicism and then in its value for educators? Ryan?
Ryan Racine 4:04
Yeah. So like I mentioned, um, well, I’ve always been interested in philosophy, probably back in university, I took a first year philosophy course. And the only mention of stoicism was I took a Shakespeare class and one of my professors mentioned, and I forget what flavor we’re reading, but he mentioned one of the characters being very stoic, and I didn’t really know what he meant at the time. I think it was referencing the philosophy but I didn’t really know. So that was my first reference of stoicism I really heard in academic setting. But I studied a lot of philosophy University, and again, it was more like esoteric topics, very abstract topics that were more about like talking about criticizing kind of the world and different structures and systems which are really important, but none of them really applied to myself like what it means to live a good life. And so it wasn’t later on until I got into teaching, and I kind of graduated from for my masters that you I started realizing that a lot of things in life are very difficult, including being a teacher, there’s a lot of things outside of your control, that is very, very difficult to deal with mentally.
Ryan Racine 5:11
So I was having coffee with my one friend. And he talked about one of the, you know, most probably recognizable stoic practice, which is the dichotomy of control, which is to separate the things within your control, to the things outside of your control and focus on the ones within your control. And I had heard of this vaguely before this principle, particularly in this remedy prayer. But it really stuck to me. And I talked about this in the book, I went to bed that night, still feeling frustrated about my situation, which at the time, a situation was our provincial government was making a bunch of cuts to education. And I was afraid for my job. And he, you know, my friend basically told me, you know, this is really tough, I understand that. But really, you can’t be preoccupied all the time with that you have to focus on those things you can’t control, like being a good teacher, like focusing on lesson planning, like giving it you’re giving it your all for your students. And that stuff, it’s going to be stressful, but you have to kind of let it go at times. And so I asked them later on, like, where did you get that advice to have heard it before? And he said, Well, I’ve been reading a lot of Stoic philosophers. And that’s my friend had them introduced it to me. And that’s how I kind of got into it. Started reading some secondary texts. There’s so many secondary texts on stoicism right now. So started reading some of those secondary texts just to introduce me to it.
Ryan Racine 6:27
And then I got more into the actual primary sources like Marcus Aurelius, Seneca, Epictetus, and then I just got really into it. And I think over time, I’ve also dabbled in other philosophies. I mentioned Zen before, and I think they all complement each other really well. But yeah, I always find myself gravitating back towards stoicism. So I’m happy my friend introduced it to me. And I think, looking at popular culture as well, the last 10 years especially there’s been a very much a growing rise in popularity when it comes to stoicism. I know like Ryan Holliday is a big guy on social media who talks all about how stoicism can help you deal with life’s problems. So yeah, that’s kind of how I got introduced, it introduced the philosophy to me and then, ever since then, I’ve just been fascinated by the philosophy.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 7:15
Absolutely. Oh, that’s an interesting story. I’m curious, you your book title talks about ancient mind hacks. And boy, there’s so much universal wisdom out there that that we can keep learning from? Are there a few important lessons for teachers that come to mind when you think about these ancient mind hacks?
Ryan Racine 7:40
Sure. So I know, some of my chapters in the book, I basically kind of focus on different mind hacks, and I call mine hacks, things that I just thought that the phrase mind hacks was, it’s a little bit trendy people like hacking, but at the same time, you know, I think what hacks are all about are and what this book is trying to do is things you can put into practice right away, you don’t have to contemplate it for a year’s time, you could actually put it together right away. So some of this practices I talked about in the book, I mentioned, the one was the dichotomy of control. So I mentioned something you can do, if you’re having trouble, and you’re feeling overwhelmed with all of the different demands that relate to your job. And some of them again, are things that you just don’t have direct control over, make a t shirt, T shirts sometimes. And on the one column, write down all the things within your control. And that can be again, lesson planning that can be building rapport with your students, things like that. The other column, think about the things outside of your control, it can be funding, it can be staff meetings, it can be other demands that again, you’re told you have to do, but you have no control over whether you make a decision for that. So do that. And sometimes by just reading it out and visually seeing it, it can really help you focus on those things within your control.
Ryan Racine 8:59
So I’ve sometimes done that, at the beginning of the day, feeling overwhelmed, I’ll even do it on the on the board because I like going to school early. And I’ll write on the whiteboard, my little T chart, read it out, remind myself of these things. And they’re just it’s a great reminder to really focus on those things within my control. So that’s one thing. The stoics also talked about the idea of preparing yourself for the day. So what I like doing is I go to school early, and I really make the morning about me. So I do some journaling, do some reading. If I have time I like doing some meditation. And it gets me in the right headspace to teach. I found when I first started teaching, I would wake up as late as I possibly can stay in bed as long as I could. And then I’d be rushing all over the place, rushing into school, figuring out what I have to do at the last minute. The story is really emphasize the idea of and Marcus Aurelius, who was the Roman Emperor at the time. He actually his book, The meditations is a journal to himself. off, and he writes it in the morning. And he writes about what he should prepare for for the day. And that’s what the stoics talked about. So one particular way that they prepare for the day is, I don’t know the actual Greek word for it, but it translates to pre meditating on adversity.
Ryan Racine 10:16
And so something that I would do, I used to work in a very high risk setting with with some high risk students. So I would sometimes in my journal, I would write out things that they shouldn’t be expecting for today. So it could be Hey, Jim had a very tough day yesterday, you know, he went home early. So I should expect that Jim will probably be coming in today really riled up. And I need to mentally prepare for that and think about what do I have to do in order to deal with that situation? What maybe like, preventative measures do I have to take to deal with Jim? So stoics were all about that actually marks the release in his book meditations, right at the beginning of the book, his which is his journal, he talks about how I have to prepare for all the different people who are going to treat me badly today. Because as a as an emperor, people are going to treat me awful, they’re going to try to abuse my power. So what do I have to do in order to do that, so just reminding yourself of some of the difficulties you’ll probably face and what it really does. And I think modern psychology has kind of backed this up, what it does is it really softens the blow when it actually happens, you’re ready for it you’re prepared for it doesn’t take you as a shock.
Ryan Racine 11:30
Because I feel like sometimes for teachers, a big stress that happens, is not expecting something or not preparing yourself, and then it happens and you’re stressed. Why is this happening? How did this happen to me, when you prepare yourself for that based on evidence has happened in the past, then it really allows you to think more rationally the situation. So that’s another mind hack that they talked about. Another one that they talked about is reframing, which I think is really important for teachers. So that is, something happens to you and events happens to you. A lot of times we bring value judgments. As soon as they happen, oh, this student said this, to me, it means they hate me. Well, no, that’s not always the case. And so what the stoics emphasize is taking time out of your day, they’d like to do this to the end of the day. So you could even do this as the end of your school day, where maybe you go back to your journal or you mentally do this, you go for a walk, you do this on the whiteboard. And you write out the different events, or some of the key events that happened today that cause stress. Maybe you write out your initial value judgments about what you thought. And then you think about so what are some other interpretations? Why might this event have happened besides the other ones. So it’s, it’s just a way to reframe your data, it really helps alleviate some of that stress. And it helps provide silver linings, or it helps provide perspective about how sometimes our initial interpretations aren’t always truthful. I’ll talk about maybe one last might have this one’s a little bit more, I guess, controversial. So it might not work for everyone.
Ryan Racine 12:57
But I actually read a book not too long ago by Paul Bloom, who he’s I think, like psych psychologists or social psychiatrist, and he talks about the idea which is very stoic, where sometimes, it’s actually healthy for our mind to go through self imposed obstacles. So the stoics talked about the idea of voluntary discomfort, adding a little bit of discomfort, and sometimes he talked about it in your morning. So what I do is I do it in my morning, where I choose an activity that is a little bit uncomfortable. So that might be Hey, waking up 10 minutes early, that might be going for a walk or little run around the block, just to get my heart going. And again, I’d much rather be in bed, but something that gets me a little bit out of my comfort zone. And, and then some people you know, on YouTube, they talked about this practice and they go to the extremely stable, I’m gonna go for a 20 minute cold shower, you don’t have to do that. If that is discomforting, that’s totally fine. Totally don’t have to do that. There’s no prescriptive way. But I like sometimes doing something where I get up a little bit early, go for a little walk or a little run. And it’s it really prepares me for the day. And again, Paul Bloom talks about this and how it actually has a great mental effect where later on with other obstacles throughout the day, ones that aren’t self imposed.
Ryan Racine 14:13
Your mind tells yourself I was able to get through that initial obstacle in the morning, therefore, you have there is a little bit more resiliency to be able to go through other obstacles later on in the day that aren’t self imposed. And it sounds a little strange for some but it does have psychological effects and the Stoics would say it does help you get through the day. And so that’s another kind of mind hack that I like to use. I don’t do it all the time. Sometimes it’s just one of those mornings where it’s really difficult to do so. But I tried to do it consistently. That’s why I like going to school a little bit early. It’s a little bit difficult but what I do was a carve out that time in the morning and then I find I have a lot more of a just a better day at school.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 14:52
I love these my my mind is just spinning as as you share them. I just think there’s so many times I tell myself One story, you know, whether it’s my initial judgment on a situation or I tell myself, this is hard. So to say, I’m going to do this and to self impose that challenge and like, oh, 10 minutes early wasn’t hard to get up a little run wasn’t hard. I think that could nudge me out of being locked in on my responses to other things, or, or I think you’re right, it could really help me reframe and show up differently. And I think our teachers need as many tools in their toolkit, always and especially now. And what you’re saying is very practical, and it’s self care in a very proactive way. This is impressive, Ryan,
Ryan Racine 15:44
I do want to mention one other mind hack that comes to mind that I think is very important, especially for today with everything that’s happened with the pandemic. And the stoics talked about this idea of taking a view from above. So what that means is, when you’re in a difficult situation, and it seems like it could be, you know, a student is misbehaving, or you’re given a demand by your administration, and it just seems absolutely absurd, or you have to prepare for standardized, standardized tests that you don’t want to prepare for, because you think it’s it’s not really useful. The stoics talked about the idea of pretending that you’re actually kind of seeing things from above, so almost like in the sky, or maybe outside of the earth, and realizing that this too shall pass. So the idea that, at some point, this obstacle, this difficulty, will get better will go away, life will go on. And I think that’s really important. Because during that entire time that I’m sure a lot of teachers went virtual, they felt Oh, my goodness, this will never end, we’re always going to be virtual, we’re going to be going back and forth. Students will be, you know, my issue that I had where a lot of students, you know, disengaged when we went online, and because of various factors. So thinking, Oh, this is this is the end of education, this is the, you know, this is going to be an awful thing that we can’t get out of the socks really emphasize the idea that we will get through this event, this will pass. And sometimes you just have to give yourself that perspective. Think about, you know, 510 years from now, will you remember this difficulty? Probably not. And if so, maybe it will be you’ll look back on it as a great lesson that you reference that you tell yourself to get through another difficulty. So I think that’s an important mindset that the stoics talked about, that it’s really important for these very difficult times that we’re still dealing with.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 17:32
I love that that that makes me think of a spiritual director of mine had a group of us look back at catastrophes in our life. And again, from that distance, and the availability of reframing. And I can remember thinking my miscarriage was horrific. And his spin was, what what good came of it. And in the moment, it’s like, what good can come up like this. And it’s like, now in hindsight, I have two amazing daughters, I can’t imagine not having them. And if everything had shifted, I wouldn’t have them. So in the moment, something can be so big, if we can get that distance and trust it. This too shall pass. And hey, like you said, Maybe there’ll be some lessons, some learning some, you know, a shift in trajectory in the moment was painful. So I think this is wisdom for all of us and beyond our profession. I’m curious, how do you apply some of these concepts with your students, because this is great for our youth as well.
Ryan Racine 18:38
I know the program that I recently just left, and that was working with at risk students, high school students in our district, we would have a subject called Life Skills would be built into the actual program. So I would try to sometimes talk about some of these principles within the life skills class. And maybe we would do certain activities that emphasize some of these things. So I was lucky in that sense. I know now I’m transitioning to more of a regular ed high school classroom. And I would like more of an opportunity to be able to do that. I’m not going to get that prescribed time, like I did before with a life skills class. But I would like that, because I think when I noticed on my end of things, so my job that I just left had to do with we would be getting students from different regular and high schools who basically got into trouble and were sent to us for the rest of the semester, they were suspended or some of them expelled. And I noticed that a lot of them the reason they got to these situations was because they just didn’t have those tools. And some of it was not their fault because of the pandemic they forgot, or never learned how to socialize in high school. And then they got into a situation and did something that they shouldn’t have, but they didn’t have those tools in place.
Ryan Racine 19:50
So I know the initiative that I have going forward is I’d love to be able to combine some of those tools and I’m an English teacher myself, so even bring in different texts that may Have you illustrate some of these lessons? And then maybe talk about so how could this apply to yourself, make a text to self connection. And I think that’s really important, because a lot of us just then go over this, these last two years, the most important thing is kids have not gotten the curriculum that they, you know, they should have gotten, which is really important. At the same time, you know, they also need to learn certain skills that they’ve lost or never learned. And as teachers, I think we have to be integrating some of these skills for the next number of years. And really, you know, really teach them what it means to behave and and what happens when we get into situations that are stressful? How can we deal with it? Because if not, they end up in situations where they get into trouble at school. And so I think we have to be very prescriptive sometimes with some of these, some of these teachings.
Ryan Racine 20:51
But yeah, I mean, I’d love to continue to do that. But you know, that’s how I did it. In the past, there was actually an interesting program that a friend of mine, from St. Louis ended up doing was called behavior mods. And I think it’s taken out, taking a bit of a backseat with the pandemic, but before the pandemic, he was actually going into schools. And he was doing these, like after school programs for kids to teach them some of these principles based on their particular grade. So to be able to tailor it to that. And I’d love to see more programs like this going on in schools. Because I think, you know, students from all ages, they need it, they need these reminders. I know myself, I’m used these reminders all the time. And that’s why a lot of people might say all these things are common sense. Well, that’s totally okay. But just because they’re common sense doesn’t mean we practice them all the time, we need to continue to remind ourselves with these principles. So I think it’s important to do that with students as well.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 21:43
I completely agree. And I’m so glad that you want to continue using this I, I really think your students are going to say thank you, thank you for making this real world and apply to me and not just some dead content that we’re supposed to get through and do school. And there’s a lot of research that says when we connect with kids, when we have those relationships, when we make things meaningful learning skyrockets, so it’s not an either or so your kids are going to be fortunate to have you for their teacher.
Ryan Racine 22:12
And I think it’s also important, like, maybe we explicitly teach these things. But it could also just be I spent a lot of time just having informal conversations with students. It can be I love the idea of weekly conferences with students about their goals. And that’s a big thing about the storks as well coming up with tangible goals. So, you know, crafting goals, and as well reflecting at the end of the week about did they meet their goals? And if not, what do we have to do in order to improve ourselves in that sense, or when you were in the situation and you and you reacted in this way? What could we have done differently and reflecting. So I think it doesn’t have to be, you know, explicit teaching and being able to figure out how we can do this, it can be just informal conversations at the beginning of class, when students are doing things touching base with students. I know, we’re technically not social workers. And and, you know, stoicism is not like a psychology, but I think it’s, we can definitely just have those conversations with their students. Because, again, there’s like a social emotional component, we have to be hitting as well with our students. So yeah, just think about those informal moments and throughout the day, and those are could be times where you really hit all these principals, with your students as well.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 23:21
Absolutely. And yes, we are not social workers, but we are dealing with human beings. And I feel so sad that oftentimes teachers feel like they have to get through this content and kids feel like widgets. My daughter called it academic bulimia, I have to open my head, they’re gonna dump it in and I’m gonna binge on it, and then purge and it just felt like the content was important in the human wasn’t a lot of the time. So your informal goal setting is so important. And modeling reflection, our culture does not do a good job about just taking a breath and reflecting and processing. We’re next next next, or these days, we’re unconscious on screens and just passive consumers. So you’re going to be with these informal conversations, really modeling some life skills. And like you said, we need practice. We don’t just happen automatically. So good for you. I think your philosophy is really going to impact your students in great ways.
Ryan Racine 24:22
Thank you. Yeah, yeah. And I love that idea of modeling to that you just mentioned, because now that I reflect back on it, I think what’s important as well, teaching these things, is modeling it yourself. So it’s talking about situations when you looked at a certain event, and maybe it was wasn’t the most accurate depiction of or judgment at the time. And then you went back and reframed and talking about, hey, you know, what happens to me as well. And we’re all on this journey together. And we have, you know, it could be different obstacles that we’re facing, but we’re all facing obstacles in life. And, yeah, I think it’d be, you know, you’re making a tough little bit vulnerable for your students, but I think the students would appreciate that some times by you talking about sometimes, you know, events that you’re comfortable talking about or obstacles, your talk you’re comfortable talking about, and talking about how you got through it. So I think that’s another great way to learn. Because, you know, the research has shown through other things like through reading and writing, looking at mentor texts, you know, that’s really important as well, well, sometimes we have to be kind of mentors ourselves and, and make ourselves vulnerable for students. And that’s a great teaching tool as well.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 25:28
Absolutely. Especially in this era of social media, where everybody has the perfect pose the perfect and are perfect, they’re portraying that my life is perfect and amazing. Not that five minutes ago, I just had this horrible thing happen. I think kids sometimes feel like if I’m having emotions are not a perfect day. Unless then because what I see in social media is so perfect. So for you to say, Yeah, we’re all human. And yeah, this is what happened to me, reminds them that social media is rarely of the ugly or the imperfect. And we’re humans, and we have plenty of the ugly and the imperfect and the unexpected, and it’s okay.
Ryan Racine 26:04
Absolutely, totally agree.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 26:06
So, Ryan, you’re doing really important work. What do you see as next for you and your mission?
Ryan Racine 26:13
Oh, that’s interesting. I know. Like I mentioned, right now, I’m transitioning to more of a regular ed setting. So I’m really, really excited to be able to focus specifically on just teaching English literature to students and figuring out basically ways to make different forms of literature except accessible to students. So that’s what I’m doing this summer, I’m doing a lot of reading a lot of professional developments. In that sense. I think going forward, I’ve taken a little bit of a break from writing. But I’d love to get back into writing. I’m not sure what I want to write about yet. I guess something else I’d love to do as well, is I’ve done a couple of workshops in the past on this topic. One was to teachers college cohort, and another one was actually to a group of teachers. And I’d love to maybe be able to do that again in some way. Maybe through conferences, maybe through again, more PD stuff. I actually now that I’m thinking about it, I did a talk for the stoic care conference, it was the first ever stoic care. And it was all about the idea of how the principles of stoicism can help us when it comes to being a caregiver for not only ourselves, but to others. So I’d love to get more involved, and maybe more PD and workshop related stuff. And again, I have a lot of learning to do my myself. And so yeah, just taking time for myself doing some learning myself, as well as maybe getting involved in different PD opportunities would be great. And then when I got that itch to, to write again, I’d love to do that. But right now, I think I did a lot of writing over the past couple of years, I’ve done some other writing in the past, when it relates to writing shorter articles. I think I want a little bit of a break from writing for now to fuel myself up. And then when the edges there, I’ll get back into maybe writing and whatever that might be, whether it be an article or whether it be just writing for myself. We’ll see where that goes.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 28:09
Sounds great. I want to shift and just have our audience get to know you a little bit more with a few terrible time questions. Does that sound okay?
Ryan Racine 28:19
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 28:20
Great. What was the last book you read?
Ryan Racine 28:24
I have it actually right here. It’s called Zen and the Art of dealing with difficult people. It’s by Mark West. Makoto, I think. And basically, it’s a great book he, he talks about how Zen philosophy can help you deal with difficult people. But he comes up with an interesting phrase, and I think he stole it from someone else. But it’s called troublesome Buddhists. And he talks about how, basically, sometimes when we’re dealing with difficult people, we have to kind of reframe it and look at them as troublesome Buddha. So basically what these people are looking at, when you look at somebody, it’s almost as a reflection to look back at yourself. So figure out what is this person actually teaching you about your kind of shortcomings. And so I really liked that idea and had a lot of wisdom in it. Each chapter is about different types of people. So it could be coworkers, family, members, friends, people you might be in a relationship with. And so that book was really impactful for me and yeah, I highly recommend others. Check it out.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 29:28
Nice. What is the passion that you bring to teaching?
Ryan Racine 29:32
Well, I like talking, that’s for sure. And I like relating to my students. And coming up with little anecdotes. I also have a bit of a music background. So even spend time this this year doing some, you know, guitar and music trivia with my students. And yeah, I just I like having fun with my students. And I like having a little bit of a sense of humor with my students. And yeah, just try to make the day try to make the day fun.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 29:59
Oh, Nice hear the teacher they’re gonna read remember years from now that is that relational piece and that fun piece are so important. Good for you. Yeah. How about a favorite thing or fun fact about the stoics?
Ryan Racine 30:14
Sure, I think the interesting thing about I talked about the three main Stoics, they came from very different, very different classes. So you had Marcus Aurelius, who was an emperor, Roman emperor, he had everything, all the power, but it was an super humble person. He was one of the last good Roman emperors before he had the string of bad ones. So you have him who has such a high ranking position. You Epictetus, who was actually a slave, his name actually means acquired one. And he practiced the philosophy as well. Then you had Seneca, who was someone who was a tutor, and eventually worked for the Emperor Nero, who I’m sure people know a little bit of history was an absolutely crazy person. And he was able to deal with it. So you had some very different people. Actually, right now, as well, like people who practice stoicism, who are a little bit more famous, they come from all walks of life as well, I think I read somewhere, Camila Cabello, who’s that singer, who was going out with Shawn Mendes, I don’t know if they’re still together, but she practices it. There’s a whole host of different people. So I really like the idea how it’s very applicable. It’s not meant for a certain group of people, but it’s this kind of universal world. You know, we’re universal, a philosophy of life, that could be applied to anyone. And I think that’s an interesting fact that you don’t just have to be a certain group to feel that it applies to you.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 31:36
Nice, yes. And something about you that most people don’t know.
Ryan Racine 31:42
Sure. Something that I love doing is I’m a long distance runner. I know I allude to it just briefly in the book. But over the past few years, I’ve really gotten into running. And I really think a lot of the lessons from running have really helped me as a teacher and as a person, the idea of having to sometimes endure, having to find solutions to things when you’re having difficulty, especially if you’re in a long distance run and your body’s kind of breaking down. You have to keep going. So yeah, I’m a long distance runner. Absolutely. Love it. And I hope to continue to, to put that hobby for a long time.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 32:21
Yes, I like to end our interviews with a magic wand moment. So Ryan, if you had a magic wand and could expose educators and learners to stoicism, what would you want them to be able to regularly use from this philosophy?
Ryan Racine 32:43
That’s a good question. I do like the idea of the dichotomy of control, like being able to kind of have educators practice that every morning, because I even find myself, there are times when a decision is made. And I’m frustrated, right off the bat, I share my frustration with my co workers, they share theirs. And though it’s important to share when you’re frustrated, and you know, really helps you get that off your chest, sometimes I wouldn’t be stewing in it, or others might just lead you to have a very difficult day or really breeds that negativity. So I think if we really had that opportunity to practice that, and I know if I was ever an admin, and we had staff meetings, I would maybe run out of my staff of that principle, because I think it really does help everyone. And it really helps us really focus on you know, these are the important things to work on at the time. We have these other things that we have no control of at this time. Let’s focus on the ones we have control on. And hopefully that will help alleviate stress. So I would definitely, you know, try to emphasize that principle for for different educators.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 33:53
I love it. Yep, that helps us get to what we can influence and make a difference. Ryan, thank you. Thank you for taking time to put all of this wisdom together in your book that has really practical applications. And thank you for being a guest today on education, evolution.
Ryan Racine 34:12
Appreciate it Maureen. Thank you.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 34:23
I always learned so much from these great guests. stoicism has been a common topic these past few years. So it was great to get the opportunity to learn from Ryan’s Deep Dive. The stoics purpose of Eudaimonia living our best lives. Sounds like a good direction, doesn’t it? We all have lots on our mental plates these days. It’s easy to feel anxious. So Ryan’s hacks are very timely. I have his book listed in the show note and I hope every But he goes out and gets it. The idea of creating a T chart of what is within our control or not, is a great place to start. I also like the idea of making the morning about ourselves. If we can get into the right mind space, we are much more likely to have an intentionally positive and productive day. I am listening to Russell Wilson narrate, getting to neutral on my audiobooks right now. The right headspace, being in neutral and prepared is a tool elite athletes, performers and business people count on important stuff premeditating on advert goodness premeditating on adversity was an interesting hack. There are times I dread an upcoming encounter.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 35:58
But to flip this and expect it and mentally prepare is a much better approach. We are capable of so much more when we become intentional reframing is another great hack. I remember an example Stephen Covey shared he was on a plane and frustrated by noisy wiggly children that the father was not corralling. Later in the flight. The father turned to Stephen and apologized. He explained his wife had just died, and that he was really struggling. Ouch. Examples like this remind me to lead with compassion. That car that cuts me off. Maybe the passenger needs to get to the bathroom immediately. We really don’t know the other person’s story. And I can choose to refrain from inconvenience or annoyance to compassion. When I become intentional. I like Ryan’s mention of troublesome Buddhas, from Zen and the Art of dealing with difficult people. In the shownotes I’ve added a YouTube by the author Mark West macat. His willingness to look with intention and compassion at the teachings from unpleasant sources is powerful. Thank you, Ryan for bringing the stoics lessons to today’s world, and especially to our over extended educators and listeners. Thank you for being a part of the education evolution.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 37:42
I know how challenging it is to make changes inside your own school or community. I’ve spent years working with schools around the world on creating learner centered programs. And it always struck me how much schools were able to get done with the right tools and guidance. If you’re ready to make changes like this in your own school, let’s talk and put together an action plan. Visit education evolution.org backslash consult for a free 15 minute call. And let’s see if we’re a good fit for more work together. Thanks again for listening. To support the education evolution. Subscribe so it lands in your podcast app and gets out to more decision makers. Then rate and review it. For more information and shownotes go to educationevolution.org. education evolution listeners. You are the ones to ensure we create classrooms where each student is seen heard, valued and thriving. We are in this together and we need you. Let’s go out and reach every student today. Thank you for listening, signing off. I am Maureen O’Shaughnessy, your partner in boldly reimagining education.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai
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