Authority through ambiguity?

After I have invited the performers into my classroom I have both noticed and will now reflect upon the notion of authority created through performance with the students’ reaction central to my observations.

I have realised that by turning my teaching into a performance, or by simply amplifying certain aspects of my personality (that is – according to the Sisters themselves what performance art actually is) then I can enhance the learning environment by actually widening the personal distance between student and teacher. Not to say become more aloof, but play with the idea of myself as a teacher, let the students know I’m playing – I won’t hide it – but at the same time not letting them get as close as they’d like. Teaching is far too often about the teacher; the person, the man, the woman, the male, the female. Students’ impressions and willingness to receive teaching is largely dictated by the people they “like.” As though we’re all Facebook pages. However, if the teacher can communicate to the students that what they see isn’t actually them, or moreover an extension of them, whilst at the same time maintaining a trust and a professional respect, then the students won’t be judging what the teachers say by who they are thus amplifying what they say – i.e. the curriculum.

But maybe it’s only a short-term thing. Maybe the students will systematically strip us of our personas over time. The performers are here for a short while and have carried with them a weight of authority simply by way of their ambiguity. Ethos is earned only by pathos and logos and I desire less pathos and more logos in my classroom. That is after all, why we’re here.

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