In yesterday’s post, I suggested that our children would benefit from being exposed to individuals and groups of people actually “practicing” their arts, crafts, and professions. The idea is that making what is normally private and hidden a little more explicit might allow students to develop a better feel for the hard work and dedication necessary to gain expertise and “professional status”.
As I continued to practice piano today with the windows open, I became aware of my own self-consciousness around being exposed as someone who was still “working things out”. Whenever I’ve had the opportunity to perform my music in public, it has always been in situations where a certain degree of proficiency was both appreciated and expected. That’s kind of what peformance is all about. Yet today, as workers finished paving the neighbour’s driveway, and as other people walked by, I was acutely aware of the fact that I was exposing a part of myself that I don’t normally expose. And, truth be told, I felt a little vulnerable.
I was exposed as a learner, as someone who needed a great deal of work before this particular piece was performance ready and as someone who might need the assistance of a teacher to get over some of the barriers that I was facing.
When I worked at OISE/UT’s Faculty of Education, I can remember going in to classrooms to observe the teacher candidates who were on my supervision roster. There were some candidates who quite readily introduced me as their teacher,but their were others who were clearly uncomfortable with this. It was a very interesting dynamic and one that seemed to turn on a willingness to become the student and that always involves a certain sense of humility and, ultimately, vulnerability.
So, I’ve been thinking about that sense of vulnerability today—in my own teaching life, and in my own personal life. Has a strong emphasis on a perfected finish product held me back from moving to the next level in certain areas of my life where I still need to grow? Does my reluctance to “practice in public” reveal a reluctance to be seen as the student? What would happen if I worked to actively challenge this reluctance?