“I’m not as good as I once was…”

…"But I'm as Good, once, as I ever was"

Ken looks right.jpg

So sings Toby Keith, who has come to understand the difference between competence and performance. Years ago I owned a book by Marina K. Burt and Heidi Dulay written for teachers of English as a second language (ESL) in which they demonstrated that learners often do not perform to their level of competence. Learners make "goofs" not errors in this situation. Teachers and lecturers do the same.

We often know how to do things better than we do them. I know this from my own perfomance. But what I also know is that some of those "goofs" may be intentional. We may choose to settle with imperfect delivery,or imperfect material. We get tired. We get lazy. We do not want to admit it because we dazzle the learners. Back in ancient times when I was a college student in Hawaii, my friend Jon stumbled on a quotation by an American religious leader of the early 19th century whose message was essentially this: the greatest sin that clings to people is that they fail to do the best they know how.

But what is exciting is that with thoughtful preparation you can do the best you know how, and when you do, your presentation really zings. There is a wonderful vibe that comes from the audience. THere is an uncanny hush over the group. And its like a little voice in your head or heart or where ever you feel things, says, "They understand what you said, and they believe its true and good for them." At this moment you feel the real joy of teaching. Better than an adrenalin rush, there is a peace within. Thats teaching!

But remember you did the best you know how. The audience responded and out of somewhere came that zing and that peace. It was not you alone, so do not get big headed.

What do you think?

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