Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Teaching as Performance Art

This is the third semester in a row that I've taught the gen-ed class, and it's evolved to the point that I view it as a performance (especially since I teach three sections of it this semester). Just as an actor might show up and do Hamlet, I show up do the proof that there are infinitely many prime numbers. I've worked out the nuts and bolts of the pedagogy the previous two semesters; now I'm refining the delivery. My classes are tightly scripted -- including the inclusion of pauses, word-for-word notes for parts where precise phrasing is essential, even the mix of activities and modes of instruction. Often, I rehearse the difficult parts. Each class is a bit of a one-woman-show that can both stand on its own and that is a part of the larger work. Whenever possible, I try to bring props, some physical object that ties in to the topic of the class. And don't forget costume -- the clothes I wear on teaching days are very carefully selected to support the image of the character I've created.