Today's Chronicle has a first-person piece on the voice and teaching. It's a little too late for me to try any of its tips, since all I have is exam day and pancake day (that's right, pancake day), but--but!--I do like how this piece calls attention to teaching as delivery. It's something we all kind of know, right?
Maybe it's because I've been wading through a lot of eighteenth-century material on elocution, or maybe it's because I've been listening to Josh Gunn's repeated calls for reclaiming speech in communication studies, but vocality doesn't seem to get the kind of attention it might well deserve.
It strikes me too that I am not the main audience for this Chronicle piece--or rather I'm more like a member of the choir who doesn't necessarily need this preaching. Two statements help me see that I'm not really part of the audience Lang is all that concerned with. The first is the way he assumes his readers oppose performance and learning:
As much as we might want to resist the notion of teaching as a performance -- thinking that our focus should be on student learning -- it can't be denied that our voices, gestures, and movement in the classroom can help or harm student attentiveness.
Resist!? I have banked the better part of my scholarly career on the relationship between learning and performing and am quite amenable to teaching as performance, as I think are a lot of teachers I know.
And then the partner-opposition that left me scratching my head is this:
It might help to think about this issue as one of communication rather than performance.
Sigh. Rhetoric, to me, is largely a matter of communication-as-performance. Up with performance! Up with speech!*
*And lest you Derrideans--yeah, you!--think I'm privileging speech over writing, I think there's plenty of room for writing-as-performance as well. I'm just diddling with some other, slightly more surprising, binaries this piece introduces, like speech/communication; speech/performance.