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TWU Professor Says Feng Shui Can Enliven Learning

TWU Professor Says Feng Shui Can Enliven Learning

Back-To-School Feature

DENTON — The diversity of cultures represented in American classrooms today has led to an emphasis on teaching children to be sensitive to cultural differences. While most of those lessons focus on the differences in food, language and clothing, a Texas Woman's University professor decided to take it a step further.

“I said, `Why don't we expose teachers and students to the more intangible and abstract aspects of culture,' which are far more interesting, in my view,” said Dr. Phap Dam, an associate professor of teacher education on TWU's Denton campus.

Dam, a native of Vietnam, used his interest in feng shui to create “Let a Lesson on Feng Shui Enliven Your Classroom!” This lesson, which Dam has presented to various teacher groups in Texas, can be expanded to include a student's home study area, he said.

Feng shui, which literally means “wind and water,” is the ancient Chinese art of placement, also known as geomancy. “It says life can be affected by the environment in which you find yourself,” Dam said, adding that the basic elements of color, furniture, plants and more can be used to create a balanced environment in any home or office — or even a classroom.

Dam said the essential element of feng shui is “chi,” an invisible flow of energy that circulates through the earth and sky, bringing the life force with it. Chi travels best when it flows in gentle curves rather than along straight lines or sharp edges. When chi is blocked, he said, it becomes “bad chi,” or “sha,” bringing problems and misfortune.

Blocked chi flow within the human body or in the home can bring problems such as illness, career or financial difficulties or problems in relationships with family and friends, Dam said.

“You can imagine what blocked chi can cause in a classroom!” he said.

Dam said the key to maintaining a happy classroom atmosphere is to keep the desks straight and even. The teacher's desk should face the door, he said, and should be placed far enough inside that the teacher can see the entire room from his or her desk. Such a “commanding position” will give the teacher control over the classroom, he said, enabling the teacher to think more clearly and have sound judgment. As a result, Dam said, the teacher's authority will be respected.

A student's desk also should face the door in his or her study area at home, Dam said. Doors and windows are potential entry points for chi and should not be blocked, he said. Plants and flowers can contribute to the good feng shui of any classroom or study area, he said, adding that bright lights help promote healthy, flowing chi, while glare is a distraction and a source of sha.

“These are very practical things,” Dam said. “Nothing superstitious.”


Feng Shui Sidebar

“Interior decorators say the ancient ideas (of feng shui) now match perfectly with the new ideas of aesthetics,” said Dr. Phap Dam, an associate professor of teacher education at Texas Woman's University. The following information, based mainly on the book Feng Shui by Kirsten Lagatree, provides guidelines on working with basic elements (color, furniture, artwork, plants, room shape and location) to create a balanced environment in a home, office or classroom:

  • The Chinese consider south to be the most favorable direction. Fame and fortune are governed by the south, which also is associated with the color red, the color of celebration and happiness for the Chinese. Painting a south-facing door red will ward off harm while attracting fame and fortune.
  • The west is affiliated with children. Putting something white and metal (such as a lamp or picture frame) on the west wall of the child's bedroom can help develop a young child's chi in a positive way.
  • North is associated with cold temperatures as well as death, adversity and evil. Water (symbolizing money) and the tortoise (symbolizing longevity, to mitigate the association with death) also are associated with the north.
  • The east is associated with growth, health and family life. Wood, representing all growing things, is associated with this direction. Avoid placing anything metal (pewter dishes, silverware, etc.) on an east wall because, in the destructive cycle, metal chops into wood. This could lead to disintegration of your family's strength or sense of cohesion.

For Further Information Contact:

Karen Treat
Senior Copywriter
Tel: (940) 898-3456