Guest speaker inspires future teachers

Kathlyn Hotynski

A guest speaker inspired education students Tuesday with his speech on how one’s philosophy of life will shape teaching style at the annual Martin Mogensen Education Lecture sponsored by the College of Education and Human Sciences.

John Perricone is an educator and the author of “Zen and the Art of Public School Teaching.” He spoke on establishing a philosophical identity, which leads to a happier life and a sense of purpose. This philosophy is what inspires teachers to teach.

“Your philosophy of life will dictate your philosophy of education and dictate all aspects of your life,” Perricone said.

The lecture series for education students was established four years ago to honor Martin Mogensen, a 1952 UW-Eau Claire alumnus. He became one of the first victims of school shootings in this country when, at the age of 46, he was killed by a student in the Tomah school where he served as principal, according to a university press release.

Perricone has been a health educator with the Maine-Endwell Central School District in upstate New York for 23 years, said senior Tim Baumann, who introduced Perricone. Perricone has received numerous local, state and national excellence-in-teaching awards. He has received Maine-Endwell’s Distinguished Teacher Award, which is voted on by the senior class, for eight consecutive years.

The person who Perricone said has had the most influence on his life is his karate teacher. Perricone has studied karate for more than 30 years and has a sixth-degree black belt. His teacher lives by the philosophy “sho-shin,” which means “cherish your beginner’s mind.”

Perricone said this is the philosophy he uses in his teaching. Before every class period, whether it is the first or the last of the day, he says “sho-shin,” and treats the lesson like it is his first and his last with his students.

Perricone encouraged the audience, which was mostly education majors and teachers, to live by this philosophy.

He left the audience with a metaphor. He presented his black belt, which was beginning to fade and become white again, which is the lowest level belt. Although Perricone has a black belt, he said he must still think like a beginner.