BEEEE Yourself

Robin Williams’ voice as the Genie as he tells Aladdin to bee himself echoes in my mind as I think about teaching styles.

Image result for bee yourself

Or, if you prefer, you can engage William Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Act – I, Scene – III is when Polonius gives advice to his son Laertes. “Neither a borrower or a lender be.” Yes, I looked this up on a learning machine, or computer if you prefer. (And you can watch the cast of Gilligan’s Island sing the phrase below.) What the heck am I talking about with these opening references? Teaching is not a monochromatic exercise. It is not devoid of a full range of colors, tones, and movements. To sit in a desk and stare at a cut out of a person while hearing a monotone humming is a great way to induce sleep or meditation but not teaching and learning. Sarah Deel discussed how she searched for a style and read to learn new teaching techniques but realized it was her style that needed projection. Her systems and manners allowed students to relate and become interested in the class. Dr. Fowler does not tell us how to teach but offers guidelines that allow each of us to find OUR way of presenting material. She does not suggest clown suites, but that could be fun, nor does she say be too relaxed. She offers a balance to maintain the teaching position and allow for personality to become exhibited. This is how to keep a class engaged in the material without losing yourself.

Seymour Papert gives a parable of time traveling doctors and teachers and how they would perceive the world today. This story is meant to illuminate the lack of progress in education. Why hasn’t pedagogical practices advanced in the last 100 years? It is not fault of that progressive thinker John Dewey. If new techniques and materials are appearing, why don’t educators use them? That is what we must constantly ask ourselves, as well as how giraffes sleep.

6 thoughts on “BEEEE Yourself

  1. I really like how you bring in contemporary examples. But I also think that while alternatives exist, it is difficult to apply them in many classes. This is because of naivety in teaching. These alternatives exist but we usually teach how we were taught. Call it human nature, but getting out of this process is deadly difficult.


  2. You bring so many great points! I definitely think that we should feel comfortable to “bee ourselves” and that by it self can make us better instructors. Our energy can focus more on the students when we don’t have to worry about ourselves and being genuine. I think this can tricky when it comes to for example political science courses since it is an area that people can be on opposite sides and that by itself makes one side less comfortable if a professor shows to which side they associate with. So I think yes we can be ourselves but it can get tricky how much of ourselves we can be depending on the subjects we teach.


  3. You’re right, education shouldn’t be monochromatic. I think that’s why it’s important that not every teacher teaches in EXACTLY the same way. There is no one perfect way, and we all benefit from being exposed to a variety of teaching styles and voices. Forcing ourselves to teach in someone else’s style comes across as fake and disingenuous, so it’s not worth doing anyway.


  4. Yes! If these theories and exercises exist, why are they not being tried? Or, maybe it would be more correct to ask “Where are they being tried?” I really do feel the need to hear/see some ideas in action. I want to hear from people who have implemented them. (Did you look up how giraffe’s sleep? Spoiler alert: It’s not what they thought.)


  5. I just had to go back and watch the clip on YouTube! Fun stuff. I agree that something as artistic as teaching cannot be monochromatic (and why things haven’t changed is a whole another topic that I can go on and on about but that’s not the point here). I have learned over the years of teaching that if you try to put up an act, the students see right through it. On the other hand, it is tough to beeee yourself because the world is a very judgy place…also people often talk about establishment of authority, discipline, etc etc…how does one balance that?!


  6. I love the Aladdin reference! I can totally still hear that when you mention it (even though I have not seen the movie in over a decade). You are right — we can’t really be TAUGHT to TEACH. Sure, we can learn about methods that tend to work and how to effectively communicate … but, as we all know, being a teacher should be so much more than standing in front of a bunch of people talking incessantly about some specific topic. That is not how we interact with people on a daily basis and should not be how we interact with our students. They need to be engaged. The classroom should not be one-sided. It is so annoying when you are talking to someone and cannot get a word in — I think the same applies to the classroom. Students’ voices should be heard too!


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