Friday, July 10, 2015

East Meets West in Economics Theory and Astrology

Astrology in a Chinese University, Part II

So what do I use as a lesson with astrology in this situation? My students are focused on accomplishment and achievement because it is a principle of their culture to be successful. To this end, I will use ANYTHING I can access in my psychological-astrological portfolio ideas.

When I met my Monday II Writing class the other day, I saw they all were looking at a hand-out for an economics class about coping with chaos in the business world. I immediately jumped for a piece of chalk and caught their attention: “I can show you with astrology how each and every one of you—everyone on this campus—reacts to chaos by using your birth sign.”  Down went the cell phones—which is something I battle everyday with them: their attention span. THIS is something they want to learn: “how do {I} become better at managing myself and be productive?”

So I explained to them that they would be placed in teams. Each team had its own way of responding with a cause-and-effect to chaos: “how do you handle Life Challenges and Responsibilities?” What I would do is show them the groupings of Cardinal, Fixed, and Mutable sign qualities.

And that’s what I did: I divided the blackboard into three parts, then broke down the signs by day/month. I first asked who in the class would fit this by their particular birthday, and then to listen and take notes about their Team Assignment in how they would handle Distractions and still be able to Focus on the Goal. In other words, how did they handle Chaos in Life and not be blown off course?

Team #1 would be the Pro-Active Response Unit of Aries-Cancer-Libra-Capricorn, who are willing to face Big Choices and Decisions head-on and stand up to the Tough Moments, even when they are rocked back on their heels by the impact. I then explained how this Team reacted on an individual basis: Aries by being self-motivated; Cancer by being concerned for the needs of others; Libra by looking for mutual support; and Capricorn for putting together a business plan as an objective and staying with it.

Then I turned to Team #2, the Fixed Group. Here, I explained, was a great deal of involvement with Financial Matters: both tangibles and intangibles. (Since these students are finance, accounting, and economics majors, I could use money principles here.) “It’s about Safety, Security, Stability, and Presence of Identity here,” I said. This group, I explained were like the Prudential insurance Rock of Gibralter image or a mighty oak tree: holding fast to the ground and staying rooted in the heaviest wind storms. Taurus, I explained, would be as strong as the Chinese zodiac ox in working hard to stay with tasks and be productive and not distracted, while Leo would be as powerful as a lion (and tiger, also a Chinese zodiac animal), displaying charisma and leadership. For Scorpio, I explained the concepts of insurance and the protection it offers to buyers, and also the rebuilding potential of moving ahead after a Life-altering event might otherwise defeat someone who is afraid and unprepared. For Aquarius, I emphasized the importance of friends and social networks for support when difficult times came up, and how group study efforts might help them learn together and get better grades. Staying with the job at hand and finding what works is your best quality, I explained.

And then it was time for the Mutables. “You are able to bend and yield like skilled martial arts practitioners,” I said. You have the mental agility to be flexible. You can perform intellectual akido, tai chi, and kung fu to overcome delays, obstacles, and limitations that are only illusions and distractions. Geminis, you have the power to use your mind to ask questions that no one else might consider. Virgos, you can analyze and find the flaws and see how to resolve them before they manifest into greater ones. Sagittarians, you know that philosophical truths are your personal tools to help see the wisdom beyond the current situation. And Pisces, you know that there is a Master Plan for all that happens. What is the Meaning and Purpose of Chaos and how does it help you gain Awareness?”

And then I asked them to write a short in-class essay about how they handled a situation where Chaos occurred in their lives. The results I received told of many struggles especially with the high school graduation test known as the Gaokao (“Gow-Kow”), and it was a huge hurdle for them. Their placement and score was absolutely crucial. Some wrote of the anguish of not getting better grades and the shame of their families, while others expressed the dilemma of whether or not to listen to parents who said that the best choice of life was to get a good-paying job and be rewarded financially—at the cost of giving up personal choices and interests.

But for me, I found that astrology helped me open a very narrow window: the willingness of these students to write and be productive in my classroom, but also to inspire and encourage them to see new ways of moving past hurdles and fears to open their eyes about the never-ending complications of Life. I am a very lucky instructor: I can teach with the zodiac in my classroom.

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