About this paper

Appears in:
Pages: 7110-7116
Publication year: 2009
ISBN: 978-84-613-2953-3
ISSN: 2340-1095

Conference name: 2nd International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 16-18 November, 2009
Location: Madrid, Spain

THE ART OF WAR: ANCIENT CHINESE STRATEGY FOR CONTEMPORARY ENGLISH TEACHERS

D. Jeffrey

American University of Sharjah (UNITED ARAB EMIRATES)
Sun Tzu wrote The Art of War some 2 500 years ago. It is the philosophical foundation of strategic thinking based on Taoism for guidance through conflict and competition to achieve victory efficiently. The Art of War was written for success on the battlefield. It has since been adapted to many contemporary competitive situations beyond the battlefield such as commerce, politics and sport.

In this presentation, its concepts are adapted to the needs of English teachers whose success depend not on open confrontation but on competitive negotiation and problem solving. Sun Tzu outlined five essential elements of successful planning: (1) The Way, (2) Heaven, (3) Earth, (4) Command and (5) Discipline. These lie at the core of his work, and will be examined in relation to English teaching in the following manner:

The Way is the path. It is vital that the path be moral and righteous, because education is a noble profession. Teachers must inspire students to share in the purpose of the educational experience. Only by doing so will students will take joint-responsibility in the mission and be committed to its success.

Heaven is timing. Teachers, being human, have a natural inclination to act impulsively. However, this is not strategically wise, and often more can be achieved by adopting a state of non-action. Sometimes when action is taken prematurely, it takes considerably more effort to unravel an undesirable situation that has emerged.

Earth is terrain, and its paradoxes. For example, while water would appear to be weaker than rock, given time it will erode rock. A general on a battlefield cannot move a mountain or a stream, but must skillfully maneuver within such a configuration to the best strategic advantage. Likewise, teachers in competitive situations must turn disadvantages into advantages by accepting, adapting, enduring and thereafter overcoming them.

Command is leadership. Most teachers know about leadership, but not all understand the requirements of effective leadership. Leadership demands great responsibility and a huge sense of duty. Without the support of the students, educational leadership is fruitless. Many believe that leadership implies a formal position and inaugurated with pomp and ceremony. However, a true leader is much more than this. Teachers do not have to be up in the front with a flag, or behind with a whip. They just have to be alongside.

Discipline is order within the chain of command. Teachers should be absolutely committed to the organization that employs them. When students see their teachers wholly supporting their employers, they become encouraged because they witness their leader sacrificing self-interest for the common good. The employers of English teachers are the supreme commanders at the headquarters of the educational mission and hold the ultimate responsibility. Employers that do not fully support their teachers become brittle, just as a military headquarters that does not support its generals cannot hope to win a war.

By applying the guiding principles of The Art of War, teachers will realize that they can succeed under even the most challenging of circumstances. Survival and success strategies are of little use if they are adopted haphazardly, impulsively or emotionally. They should be rooted in sound philosophy that has stood the test of time. This philosophy exists in Sun Tzu’s ancient yet timeless classic The Art of War.



@InProceedings{JEFFREY2009THE,
author = {Jeffrey, D.},
title = {THE ART OF WAR: ANCIENT CHINESE STRATEGY FOR CONTEMPORARY ENGLISH TEACHERS},
series = {2nd International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation},
booktitle = {ICERI2009 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-613-2953-3},
issn = {2340-1095},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Madrid, Spain},
month = {16-18 November, 2009},
year = {2009},
pages = {7110-7116}}
TY - CONF
AU - D. Jeffrey
TI - THE ART OF WAR: ANCIENT CHINESE STRATEGY FOR CONTEMPORARY ENGLISH TEACHERS
SN - 978-84-613-2953-3/2340-1095
PY - 2009
Y1 - 16-18 November, 2009
CI - Madrid, Spain
JO - 2nd International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
JA - ICERI2009 Proceedings
SP - 7110
EP - 7116
ER -
D. Jeffrey (2009) THE ART OF WAR: ANCIENT CHINESE STRATEGY FOR CONTEMPORARY ENGLISH TEACHERS, ICERI2009 Proceedings, pp. 7110-7116.
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