Right from the get-go, we had some excellent discourse around the appropriateness of the analogy, as Michael Ling interjected, “But if teaching is like acting, does that imply that the teacher is faking it, or is disingenuous?”
Kevin acknowledged that analogies are usually chosen due to the similarities between the base-domain (e.g. theatre) and a target-domain (e.g. teaching). However, understanding the dis-similarities or mis-mappings is equally important to coming up with new insights or seeing the target with fresh eyes.
Live teaching shares many of the required skills of a performer on stage, like movement, gesture, and projection of the voice. Teachers also regularly experience performance pressure and stage fright. As part of his research preparing for the session, Kevin had been drawn to the work of Seymour Sarason, who spoke of teaching as a performing art. No sooner had Kevin started quoting Seymour than he was interrupted by a case of deus ex machine, as Seymour came on screen expounding on his reflections!
Kevin seemed pleasantly surprised by the timely interruption of Seymour. Responding, he quoted scholars of education and theatre:
“Acting is not pretense. It is used not to deceive, but rather to vivify. Teachers act in order to gain attention, to clarify, and to stimulate. They do not attempt to portray something they are not, but instead to convince by dramatizing.” (Rubin, 1985, p.117)
And as the Russian theorist of theatre, Konstantin Stanislavski suggested “acting is a matter of being truthful in imaginary circumstances” (Gillett, 2014)
Subsequently, Kevin encouraged us to have a small group discussions mapping the similarities of theater and teaching as well as their implications for our own thoughts about teaching.