tirsdag, februar 26, 2008

Those who can't do, teach?

A minor event that's gotten me thinking, and then taking 15 minutes or so of that thinking to blog about. So that I can feel both deep and shallow at the same time...

In my pregnancy yoga class today, we were guided into doing something that involved standing with our feet pretty close together (not touching, but almost)...and then bending over and letting our upper bodies relax. As we all did this, and I (and the others who are due relatively soon) all seemed to emit sounds of discomfort at the same time, the teacher suddenly said, 'wait a minute, I forgot...you all have bumps! Of course you can't do this with your feet so close together, you have bumps!' Now, seeing that this is a pregnancy yoga class, you'd think it would be obvious. Actually it was quite amusing. The yoga teacher did then talk about preparing classes by trying out the yoga moves with a football underneath her shirt, which seems pretty sensible to me, but not perhaps the ideal way to go about it.

Which has gotten me thinking about jobs that you can do without having direct life experience of what it is you're working with. Take me for example. I've been teaching English as a foreign language for many, many years (I'd give the exact number, but it's too scary to do the math...well over a decade, I'll admit to that much). For the first couple years, I was firmly monolingual. Not that I'd never studied a foreign language, but just that I'd never gotten to where I could do anything in any of them. Actually, the number of languages that I've studied is really quite impressive, but the number that I can actually use in a meaningful way? Two. Which corresponds directly to the number of countries where I have lived in in which the main language of that country is not English.

The question is, is it so vital to have 'lived' the job you do? There must be single marriage counselors out there, for example. I am undecided about this. Am I a better teacher now that I'm trilingual rather than monolingual? I am a better teacher, to be sure, just because I have done it for longer, and developed more confidence and greater skill. I'd like to think that the languages help, but I couldn't say that they're necessary. And I really like my yoga teacher, and don't feel that she would be better if she had given birth before...but of course if she experiences pregnancy later, then her teaching may well become more nuanced as a result.

What is your opinion? And are you in a job which can serve as an example of what it is I'm on about here? Or better yet, a counter example?

4 kommentarer:

ANNA-LYS sagde ...

in response

Hej Neighbour Denmark ;-) I am from Scandia (Skåne), but I live on the Swedish Riviera. Kimananda, there is a place in Denmark, that is bewitched, a place I actually could move to if something nice comes in front of my eyes, and that place is Silkesborg. I must have been there in a former life or something, because it is like a magnet on me. I can sit up on the hill and look down and around for days!!! So beautiful!


Devil Mood sagde ...

I've thought about this often. While I was studying Psychology I thought I'd never be good at it because I wasn't as wise and stable as I thought I should be.
But now I don't think that's true. In this specific case you can be a great counsellor, care a lotand help people without:
(a) having been in their situation (the classic example of dealing with drug addicts - do you have to do drugs yourself?)
(b) being exactly an example of psychological health. ;)

Marion sagde ...

I don't think it is true for all jobs, but I think whether you are a good teacher or not definitely depends a lot on your life experience. The teachers that have impressed me most were both super-competent and super-charismatic (or just really cute...). It kind of upsets me that highschool teachers, for example, graduate from highschool, go on to study at uni and then return to school, usually without having much experience outside these two institutions.

kimananda sagde ...

Anna-lys, thank you! More places to go in Scandinavia. Really, I haven't spent enough time traveling around here, even after 4 years living here.

Ms. Mood, good examples. And, from a psychological perspective, why is it that half the time, I write your name as Ms. Moo, then have to go back and add in the 'd'? I apologize in advance, as undoubtedly, I'll one day not notice to add the 'd'.

Marion, that's a good point about life experience. I had some good high school teachers as well who had done other things in their lives, and it made a difference in the classroom.