According to the Bhagavad-gita, one’s activities can either be in goodness, passion, or ignorance.
There is no being existing, either here or among the demigods in the higher planetary systems, which is freed from these three modes born of material nature. Bg. 18.40
Teachers will be affected by the modes of nature. Their style of teaching and discipline will, therefore, also be affected. In this chapter we analyze how the spectrums of discipline techniques are influenced by the three modes of material nature. This analysis is meant to remove common roadblocks to discipline and thus facilitate teachers, especially less-experienced teachers, in quickly attaining a well-disciplined teaching and learning environment.
Teaching in the Mode of Ignorance
That action performed in illusion, in disregard of scriptural injunctions, and without concern for future bondage or for violence or distress caused to others is said to be in the mode of ignorance.Bg. 18.25
The worker who is always engaged in work against the injunctions of the scripture, who is materialistic, obstinate, cheating, and expert in insulting others, and who is lazy, always morose and procrastinating is said to be a worker in the mode of ignorance. Bg. 18.28
A teacher in ignorance is angry and violent. He forces students to comply with his wishes, but he is completely blind to how his actions affect the Krsna consciousness of the students. Such ignorant actions, from beginning to end, cause suffering for both teacher and student. The choices such teachers make and the results of those choices will always be incorrect. Insults to students will abound from his lips.
A teacher’s hostility is a product of the mode of ignorance. A hostile teacher gets his own needs met, but at the expense of disrespecting or ignoring the needs of his student. Such a negative, iron-fisted approach has at its base a philosophy that “being tough” on the students is for their own good. A hostile teacher plans what to do if the children do not follow his rules, but when rules are actually broken, the hostile teacher ignores his pre-ordained consequence and deals with the offense in a whimsical, albeit iron-fisted manner. He divides the students into friends and enemies; those who surrender are rewarded, and those who do not are berated, intimidated, and abused.
A hostile teacher may feel he has no choice, and that the inappropriate behavior of his students forces him to act in an excessively sarcastic or violent manner. Nevertheless, such teaching, immediately and for the future, injures his own Krsna consciousness and the Krsna consciousness of his students.
And that happiness which is blind to self-realization, which is delusion from beginning to end . . . is said to be of the nature of ignorance.
Purport: For the person in the mode of passion there might be some kind of ephemeral happiness in the beginning and at the end distress, but for the person in the mode of ignorance there is only distress both in the beginning and at the end.
Teaching in the Mode of Passion
But action performed with great effort by one seeking to gratify his desires, and enacted from a sense of false ego, is called action in the mode of passion. Bg. 18.24
That worker who is attached to work and the fruits of work, desiring to enjoy those fruits, and who is greedy, always envious, impure and moved by joy or sorrow, is said to be in the mode of passion. Bg. 18.27
A teacher in passion takes personal offense if his students do not obey him or others do not appreciate his methods. He works hard, but his moods change according to the results of his work. He is envious of teachers who obtain better results. He cannot distinguish what is truly best for his students, and he often prompts them into action with the lure of short-term pleasures. These dealings are sweet in the beginning, but as they neglect the ultimate good of the students, they eventually become as bitter as poison.
Although it may be temporarily easier and more pleasing to the senses and mind to avoid confronting the inappropriate behavior of students or to neglect following through with consequences such non-assertive avoidance leads, in time, to an increase in disruptive behavior in the classroom.
That happiness which . . . appears like nectar at first but poison at the end is said to be of the nature of passion. Bg. 18.38
Teaching in the Mode of Goodness
That action which is regulated and which is performed without attachment, without love or hatred, and without desire for fruitive results is said to be in the mode of goodness. Bg.18.23
One who performs his duty without association with the modes of material nature, without false ego, with great determination and enthusiasm, and without wavering in success or failure is said to be a worker in the mode of goodness.
A teacher in goodness is regulated, self-controlled, and tolerant. He is not attached to the results of his efforts and dutifully teaches without wavering in success or failure. He naturally knows what actions his students should take, and he is able to clearly communicate them to his students. His strictures may at times be difficult, like poison, for his students; but in the end, the results are as sweet as nectar. Assertiveness is one quality of a teacher interacting with his students in the mode of goodness. An assertive teacher explicitly instructs his students in clear terms. He clearly explains what will happen if the students do not comply with his instructions, and he consistently follows through with those consequences if non-compliance occurs.
Although consistently dealing in an assertive way with students may not be easy, it nevertheless produces effective classroom discipline.
That which in the beginning may be just like poison but at the end is just like nectar and which awakens one to self-realization is said to be happiness in the mode of goodness.
Purport: All these procedures are very difficult, bitter like poison, but if one is successful in following the regulations and comes to the transcendental position, he begins to drink real nectar, and he enjoys life. Bg. 18.37
From the book The Art of Teaching