Monday, December 15, 2008

More on Teaching Courage

A few days back, I was excited at finding out about a book called The Courage to Teach, by Parker Palmer. Reason: though my classes seem to go well, I always feel a fear of teaching return afterwards. That's so weirdly specific: like being scared of heights only three or seven stories high. And I don't understand the fear's ability to grow back every time I get rid of it.

But anyway, I got hold of the book, started reading and it's everything I'd hope it would be. What it did for me, essentially, is to encourage my teaching in my own way and not worrying about what's supposed to work best. You'd think that would be perfectly obvious, especially for an artist-type. And, in fact, I've pretty much always done it my way, but then worried that people weren't getting what they needed. Apparntly I needed encouragement to keep on doing what I've been doing and simply relax about it.

Here are two quotes I especially like: "External tools of power have occasional utility in teaching, but they are no substitute for authority, the authority that comes from the teacher's inner life....Authority is granted to people who are perceived as authoring their own words, their own actions, their own lives, rather than playing a scripted role at great remove from their own hearts."

And: "Behind their fearful silence, our students want to find their voices, speak their voices, have their voices heard. A good teacher is one who can listen to those voices even before they are spoken--so that someday they can speak with truth and confidence."

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K.B. said...

I've done a few productions under a director friend of mine, who is what you might call an actor's director. Theresa has this amazing ability to be able to find the exact words to communicate with people, not on her terms, but in theirs.

As a result, all of Theresa's actors and tech staff feel totally empowered to do what they need to do to find and realize the vision that Theresa is shepherding to performance, because they feel like they truly understand the vision and performance that Theresa is drawing out of them.

It's astonishing to watch her work!

Peggy Payne said...

I want to know more. Anything written by or about her? Any video of her?

Do you know if it's innate and intuitive or something she has learned?

K.B. said...

I don't really know, but it wouldn't surprise me if it's both. She's a southern girl, originally, but I can't quite remember where from.

She's still at Kean University, last I heard -- Dr. Teresa Choate.

I haven't spoken to Teresa in year -- now that she's come up, I'll have to get in touch with her again!

Peggy Payne said...

Thanks, K.B. I'll follow this up.

Peggy Payne said...

K.B. (and anyone else interested) Choate is in this book:

American women stage directors of the twentieth century
Anne Fliotsos and Wendy Vierow.
Author: Fliotsos, Anne L., 1964-

Published: Urbana : University of Illinois Press, c2008.
Language: English
Format: Book
Summary: Presenting a historical overview of female stage directors in the United States, this valuable reference tool focuses on fifty women who have made significant contributions to professional directing d... (see more)

A fairly pricey book, but it's in the UNC library, which is handy for me.

K.B. said...

:) That's my girl.

I'll see if I can't hie her over here to comment, though I think she's about to go on holiday. She just wrote me back today!