"[I]f I had to live my life again, I would have made a rule to read some poetry and listen to some music at least once every week…The loss of these tastes is a loss of happiness, and may possibly be injurious to the intellect, and more probably to the moral character, by enfeebling the emotional part of our nature." --Charles Darwin

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Teacher as conductor

My principal is very much into technology, and as I believe it is important to our students, I am interested in its application to education as well. I do think that this is a slower process than he would like it to be, because you cannot teach with a technology you have not used to learn with yourself; otherwise you don't understand how learning is done with that technology.

And beside, there is a romantic part of me that imagines that a great teacher needs nothing but a room and students. Not even a book, a piece of chalk--just those selves gathered together.

This video featuring the conductor Benjamin Zander of the Boston Philharmonic is about learning to love classical music. And Zander is an exciting teacher himself, which would make it worth your 20 minutes in any event.

The money line comes 14 minutes in when he says,
"The conductor of an orchestra doesn’t make a sound. He depends for his power on his ability to make other people powerful. My job was to awaken possibility in other people. If their eyes are shining, you know you’re doing it. If they’re not shining you get to ask this question: 'Who am I being that my children’s eyes are not shining?' ”
As an English teacher, I don't dispense information. I teach process. I try and impart good ways to do something the student already (sort of) knows how to do--but in order for that to be effective, I must create passion. I need to remember that Monday morning when I go back to my classroom, whether it's filled with gadgets or a bare room. I need to be in the passion business.

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