Excerpt: Teaching as a Performing Art



Excerpts from My Own Writings
"How the U.S. Surprises Russians"
"Getting to Know the Other Side"
"Social Inventors"
"Woody Allen Pushes On..."
"Robbins Celebrates the Outlaw"
"Avoiding Pathologies of Defense"
"Setting Positive Mutual Examples"
"Dance Your Troubles Away"
"Jumping Ahead and Looking Back at the Future"
"Cleansing the Doors of Perception"
"What Is Psychology of Mind?"
"Teaching as a Performing Art"
"Sanford's Vision"
"A Spectator of the Game of Science"
"Class report"

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By Craig K. Comstock
Chapter in Faculty Development in a Time of Retrenchment (written on behalf of the Group for Human Development in Higher Education, of which the author was a member; published by Change Magazine Press)

          A professor who remarks of a colleague that he or she is a "performer" rarely intends the remark as a compliment. On the academic scene the word mainly suggests a striving for flashy effects rather than for truth, a display of oneself at the expense of the subject, or a pandering to the presumed taste of late adolescents. Most professors are eager to avoid the charge of flashiness, preferring to think of themselves as transmitters of knowledge and skills, as people with material to be got through, ground to cover, points to convey. They also dislike the imputation that they are merely "performing" a script written out in advance. They want to respond sensitively to student questions and contributions during classes. Taken either way, most professors do not want to be regarded as performers.

          Nonetheless, teaching can be seen as a performing art. Like drama or the dance, it happens and then, except in memory, is gone. This has very far-reaching consequences....

New York Times story on this report


Excerpts used on this site by permission of the author.