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Why Do You Ask?

From asking questions that require an answer To asking questions that require a conversation.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Emotional Exhaustion

Today I showed my classes the Discovery Channel's documentary, The Flight That Fought Back. I was hoping that my students would sit through a documentary, and they did.

We did not complete the entire 53 minutes but each class was near enough to the end that they understood the impact of 9/11/01. As I have mentioned, I work with a wonderful woman whose brother was on the 92nd floor of the North Tower that day. She brought a copy of the family flyer they posted around New York in the days after the attack.

As I tried to mention the flyer I had posted by the door, I couldn't get through it. I choked up. I admit it. It's been 7 years, and I still sympathize strongly with my colleagues personal loss of that day. My students choked up too; probably because of me and not the content of the video.

But that made me think of the power of our emotion as we teach. Do we empathize with the material we present? How about the students we teach? I know that is probably difficult in math -- my emotions over numbers are usually just anger that I can' figure out the problem. But how can a teacher do a good job of presenting the issues of poverty, genocide, persecution, or war without some kind of emotion and be effective?

Similarly, how can a teacher present patriotism, pride, success, or victory without some kind of emotional presentation?

I'm not saying that everything should be cheers or tears. I am saying that in order to reach people (our students) we must touch their heart as well as their mind.

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