Yes, The Singer
The late sixties and early seventies were a very different landscape for school teachers. For the most part, they did not have helicopter parents breathing down their backs, and for good or for bad, they had control of the classroom. If students acted out, there were consequences. From everything I hear now, the environment has changed drastically.
Today’s class often uses methods of coddling and delicacy to manage oppositional children and adolescents.
Also, these young people are not always respectful of authority. Often, teachers’ hands are tied concerning consequences even when adolescents are texting, and, more disturbingly, sexting, openly dancing from Tic Toc Videos, and being disruptive with other behaviors. In some cases, even when the teacher performs like a gifted singer occasionally engaging at 200 percent, individual students will not be reached.
The Importance of Delivery
For those of us who are Boomers, we remember this was not the case way back when. There were no distractions from less than stellar instructors. If you were assigned a boring teacher, you were out of luck for recourse. You had to tolerate the monotony, and if you dared act out, which in this day and age would be considered not, there was a price to be paid.
Although I do not mean to target teachers, next to parents, they tend to be the most influential authority figures in a child’s life. Teaching is indeed an art, and the delivery must be impeccable. Like a singer, the teacher’s performance impacts the song. Otherwise, it is experienced as inaudible and eventually lost on the student.
Teachers Must Be Like Singers
When I was an eighth-grader, long ago, I had a very dull teacher who taught a dry subject with a monotone voice. Even his appearance and facial expressions seemed to match the rest of his characterless presentation. Now, you might say, ”You Meany.” Not really! This man did nothing to inspire. He actually could put people to sleep, but if you were assigned to sit in the front as I was, you had to pretend you were listening. If my sixty-is-the-new-forty memory serves me correctly, some of the young so-called beautiful people caused a bit of a stir by making a dramatic appearance. Even with that entry, this teacher’s tone did not fluctuate. Somehow, and I don’t know how I managed to squeak a B-grade letter out of this torturous experience.
Sometime later, I heard that the same teacher was a “hot ticket” at a social event. When this came to my attention, I wondered why he could not use his humor in the classroom. Over the years, I had a few more teachers who taught challenging courses in the same artless form, and some who were able to teach incredibly interesting subjects without any flair. Who could make Intro. to Psychology boring? One of my college professors managed to accomplish that feat. At the same time, talented teachers could take difficult topics and create magic. In graduate school, we had a fantastic professor who explained Statistics and Research with zest. As a result, our comprehension of this subject matter could not have been better.
Indeed, when it comes to teaching, it is the Singer and not the song.
If you think about it further, any person who needs to communicate effectively can do so with engagement both in tone and in words. Repeatedly, I have shared about a supervisor who once said, “Words are like fine surgery.” I never forgot this.
Any Communication Involves Fine Tuning
What are other areas important regarding the art of communication? Well, parenting, the hardest job in the world, is a given. Different roles, however, also require keen attention to the spoken word. Coaches, therapists, and just about any other profession where you are dealing with people should produce some effort. Some of us have more engaging styles which allow us mastery in tonality. For others, it takes many attempts. I once heard a speaker say that he needed to sharply improve his presentation skills because he caught someone falling asleep right in front of him. With honesty and humor, he stated, “He was snoring because I was boring.” He worked tirelessly on correcting this. Yes, people who are not naturals with animation can learn to improvise.
How about words? Everyone is capable of changing their wording. Again, for some, more considerable exertion may be required, but all of us should evaluate if there are times we could have used more appropriate phrasing. Those of us in the helping profession must be especially careful in how we approach an individual. Although I try to be scrupulous, like all human beings, even and especially in my business, I have made my mistakes. Going at great lengths does not always guarantee exceptional performance.
Like a dedicated singer, one can only hope that practice and hard work pay off. When dealing with sensitive issues, listen carefully, and try to do better.
Perfection is an illusion, but pursuing excellence is not. This journey is life-long, and as a lovely client once said to me, ”There are no finishing lines.”
What Are Your Thoughts?
Do you recall those teachers who inspired you versus those who did not? Are there other professionals you know who could have had a better delivery? With more elbow grease, do you think everyone is capable of conveying their message with enthusiasm? Do you agree it is the singer and not the song?