Saturday, June 22, 2013

'Nailing It" in Acting and Teaching

This morning on radio there was an interview with the writer James Patterson, who indicated he had no problems with writing (he loves telling stories). He refers to Morgan Freeman in some movie, where Freeman was fully confident of his acting ability, and Patterson said of Freeman, He nailed it.

I have been teaching for long enough so I have a good sense of my talents. I recall early on, I was struck by the fact that I could talk to a class, having made up and prepared an argument by myself, and it was OK. This was not like teaching physics, nor was it in a course with a textbook. I had to do it all, albeit informed by the reading I had assigned. I was shocked by what I was doing.

But it worked more or less, and as the years went on I discovered other strengths. I am a good consultant and coach, and I can think in front of a class. I can deal with student questions and go someplace with them. There's lots I am not good at, but in effect I have "nailed it" for the roles I have chosen to play

The blurb from Sherry Turkle on the main page of this blog reminds me of what I do well..

What I don't do that other faculty do well leaves me vulnerable to questions about my authority. I can be thrown by such questions, end up writing about them in this blog, but my deeper confidence and my resilience is based on many years of teaching and on the many students who believe that what I do is valuable to them. 

My colleague and friend Bill Alonso (professor of regional planning at Berkeley, and then at Harvard, who died in 1999) said that our salaries are rent paid on our experience set.