Friday, October 27, 2006
ON TEACHING: Poise
Lately it’s become clear to me that the concept of “poise” is very important in my teaching. To be poised is, literally, to carry oneself in a state of perfect balance, and that’s truly what I ask of my students. Whether they are reading, writing, or speaking, I expect them to be well-balanced enough that their thoughts are communicated in an adequately controlled and composed manner. Their feelings, thoughts, and words should be in the kind of equilibrium that allows them to express themselves articulately and convincingly. This also suggests that they must gradually free themselves from affectation and embarrassment. If everything in the students’ arsenal of English skills gradually becomes nicely balanced, the students will progressively feel more poised, and if poised, then confident, ready, geared up, and eager. There will be no need to put on airs, and certainly no need to feel embarrassed. They will read, write, and speak with confidence and courage. The wonderful result of all this for my students is that they will be able to “carry” themselves with a greater sense of dignity. Their demeanor will gradually grow calmer and more dignified. People will remark on their self-assurance, their buoyant deportment, their overall appearance of distinction. They’ll be perched on the brink of a very bright future, partly because their English teacher demanded, above all, that they be poised.