Monday, March 27, 2006

Teaching as performance

Teaching is a bit like acting. Outside the classroom door, you put on a metaphorical teacher's hat and are changed into a slightly different person. One who knows all the answers! - which isn't necessarily the case in real life... .

So I become a slightly exaggerated version of myself. I become more enthusiastic, more confident, more lively - probably more eccentric. I repeat things a lot. I talk slowly. I talk fast. I wave my arms around. I hold the floor. (I hardly ever do that in the outside world.) That's why people remember their teachers as being a bit mad. They're just trying to be memorable - so that their students learn. At its most basic, they're trying to keep their students awake.

I often think that in some ways, actors have it easy. No one expects an actor to hand out all the programmes, to make up the words for the show - different every time - to perform for six or eight hours with not much break, to gather in audience responses and then to mark these responses in the evening.

I say this - but I would actually hate to be an actor. Why does anyone do it? Imagine having to audition for every new class you take. And dress up in funny clothes. And have potentially nasty comments published in the newspaper about your classes by people who've never taught, but simply watched other people teaching and think they knew all about it. Goodness, how stressful that would be.

(Talking of dressing up - I took the £60 handbag back to the shop. It was very pretty but a waste of money, since I'd hardly ever use it. I'll carry the £5 one at Daughter 1's wedding. Scottish meanness? - nonsense. Just thrift.)


  1. You took my comment on board then? Good for you! Tell anybody who asks that the bag you are carrying cost 60 quid - nobody will know except you and your blog friends - lol!

  2. Yes. And I'm sure no one will ask!

  3. Everyone will be lookiong at the bride, not your hand bag!

  4. You become a more exagerated version of yourself as a teacher...

    Ok, I know Im not a trained pro at teaching, but for a number of years now I've been teaching & organising groups of children to sail. Running the sailing base, running the courses on a vouluntary basis.

    I have the same feeling of becoming a more intense version & confident of myself for the 7 hours or so each day.
    Interesting this happens to professional teachers as well, being extremly shy I thought it was just my way of dealing with the stress of it. Hmm.

    As for the handbag, just rotate it wildly around you head as the bride hits the aisle. Get it noticed. I'm sure you'll get plently of feed back as to which choice you should have made.

    Thankyou for visiting my blog.