Status and Teaching


In the book Impro author Keith Johnstone explains (in "Notes on Myself", section "Getting the Right Relationship") group interaction and how to teach improvisational theatre, or just about anything else, most effectively:

The first thing I do when I meet a group of new students is (probably) to sit on the floor. I play low status, and I'll explain that if the students fail they're to blame me. Then they laugh, and relax, and I explain that really it's obvious that they should blame me, since I'm supposed to be the expert; and if I give them the wrong material, they'll fail; and if I give them the right material, then they'll succeed. I play low status physically but my actual status is going up, since only a very confident and experienced person would put the blame for failure on himself. At this point they almost certainly start sliding off their chairs, because they don't want to be higher than me. I have already changed the group profoundly, because failure is suddenly not so frightening any more. They'll want to test me, of course; but I really will apologise to them when they fail, and ask them to be patient with me, and explain that I'm not perfect. My methods are very effective, and other things being equal, most students will succeed, but they won't be trying to win any more. The normal teacher-student relationship is dissolved.

Yes, and in some ways this sure sounds like what some call sandbagging, deliberate self-deprecation ...

(cf. PretenseAndLackThereof (1999-10-11), StatusGenetics (2000-05-24), ...) - ^z - 2012-12-19