Like most people, I love a good metaphor* and to be fair (and not too cynical), I do like the actor/teacher/performer parallels, especially when elucidated in terms of positively affecting student learning as opposed to look-at-me-ism. However, my problem with the teacher metaphor is that it rarely goes far enough. Here, I go too far.
|Take from http://www.azquotes.com/quote/418194|
I don't remember who it was (maybe Patrick Stewart), but I heard a story a while back about an actor wandering through a fish market on a Saturday morning and upon seeing the vacant, lifeless eyes of rows and rows of fish, realised with a fright that he had a matinee that afternoon. Like performers in noisy pubs, we often find ourselves teaching people who don't really want to be there. In those cases, we take a deep breath, brace ourselves and whisper the mantra of (show)business.
Parallel Number 2: Stanislavski
Just like us, those actors love their methods. Apparently Robert De Niro was a big fan of drilling. Daniel Day Lewis swears by Task Based Learning. And Meryl Streep is all about audio-lingualism. And similarly, when we get too carried away with our method du jour, there'll likely be a Laurence Olivier type to arch an eyebrow and ask why we don't just try teaching.
Parallel Number 3: Remuneration
Apart from those at the very top of the pile (your Tom Cruises, your Carlos Martins), we're not on great money, in many cases only paid for the performance/class itself and not all the work going into it (rehearsals/cutting up bits of paper). This exploitation can dampen enthusiasm somewhat but every so often a lucrative gig comes along (flogging nespressos/one year tax free teaching, flights included) to save us from going under.
Parallel Number 4: Selfies
Students regularly ask if they can take a picture with me (it's not just me, all my colleagues get the same request). It happens so frequently that I have a fixed facial expression and body stance that I default to; in every photo it is only the students (and my hairline) that changes. The parallel with actors is so obvious that I barely need to spell it out...but I will anyway. Like actors, we're all bloody gorgeous.
Acting is a good thing to do with your life. Teaching is too.
*Thanks to Michael Griffin of ELT Rants, Reviews and Reflections for sharing via Twitter.
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