Master Teaching

a blog for teachers who follow the Master Teacher

Empowering the Buffalo

buffaloby Pam Barger

Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the foreigner or the poor. Do not plot evil against each other.[1]

There is an old Thai proverb that states that a “woman is a buffalo, only man is human.” For centuries in Thailand, formerly known as Siam, the water buffalo was essential for plowing rice fields. Although the Thai people viewed the buffalo as dependable and strong, they also considered it to be submissive, stubborn, and lacking intelligence. Thai farmers at times physically abused buffalo in the process of taming them. Thus, a Thai person considered it very rude to call someone a buffalo.

This Thai proverb is the heart of my personal journey in life and calling. I am a Thai-American woman who happens to be in the field of education and follows the Master Teacher. My desire has been and continues to be empowering females through education. From my experience as an educator and follower of the Master Teacher, I have come to see how He administers true justice, shows mercy and compassion to girls and women through intentional educational opportunities.

As teachers, we want to provide opportunities and access for all people to obtain quality education. As students, we want to have opportunities and access to receive excellent education without political, economic and social pressures. Not only is education a privilege, it is a right for girls and boys, women and men to acquire. We can see these intended educational opportunities in the Master Teacher’s interaction with females. Women such as Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Susanna traveled with Him as He taught them and many others about who He is through parables.[2] The Master Teacher also purposely afforded opportunities for marginalized women to learn and be healed by Him, those who had been scorned or ignored by society as worthless. These females, such as the woman who bled for 12 years or the woman who was crippled by a spirit for 18 years, were nameless.[3] However to the Master Teacher, they were special, and He called them each by name.[4]

As educators, how can we be opportunistic with regards to education for females, and also the oppressed and poor? We can do that through intentional teaching. In her book, The Intentional Teacher: Choosing the Best Strategies for Young Children’s Learning, Ann S. Epstein discusses how educators can act purposefully, using their knowledge, expertise, and judgment to create stimulating learning experiences for children.[5] These include creating specific objectives and a carefully planned curriculum with engaging activities and a learning climate that is inclusive, inviting, and encouraging. The Commonwealth of Australia details a comprehensive list of intentional teaching practices that teachers can utilize such as imagination, collaboration, negotiation, and scaffolding.[6] I believe this type of intentional teaching can also apply to adult learners.

In our classrooms, we can intentionally provide opportunities for our students, especially those who are ignored or looked down upon because of gender or background, to share their perspectives on the educational content. We can further dialogue with them, as we thoughtfully listen to and consider their perspectives, pose questions to get insight into their thought processes, and challenge their thinking. This type of intentional teaching is what the Master Teacher displayed to Mary, Martha, the adulteress woman in the temple courts, and the Samaritan woman at the well.[7] As teachers, may we have opportunities to be intentional in our teaching and service so that females and all can be empowered and find joy in Him.


[1] Zechariah 7: 9-10, New International Version.
[2] Luke 8:1-5.
[3] Mark 5:25-34; Luke 13:10-13.
[4] Psalm 147:4.
[5] Ann S. Espstein, The Intentional Teacher: Choosing the Best Strategies for Young Children’s Learning (Washington, DC: National Association for the Education of Young Children, 2015).
[6] “Intentional teaching practices,” Gowrie, Accessed June 20.2016, http://www.gowrie-tas.com.au/images/pdfs%20psc%20ipsu/INTENTIONAL-TEACHING-STRATEGIES.pdf
[7] John 4: 1-42; John 7:53–8:11.

Further exploration

  • Mark 5
  • Matthew 15: 21-28; Mark 7:24-30

What’s your perspective?

  • What are some examples of intentional teaching that you have done in and outside the classroom?
  • In your teaching, what opportunities could you offer females and the marginalized?
  • What does education as justice mean to you?

Post Author

PamPam Barger is an experienced ESL and EFL teacher with a Ph.D. in Cultural and Educational Policy Studies (specialization in Comparative International Education). Pam has researched the religious effects of the education of women in Thailand. She currently serves as the Assistant Professor, Program Director of the English Language Institute Partnership Programs, and Field-Based Education Coordinator for the Intercultural Studies Department at Wheaton College Graduate School.


Photo Credit: 10b travelling via Compfight cc

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