Tonight Matthew I will be…a penguin

3 02 2013

Animal studies

Last week I started teaching Animal Studies.

It’s a way of encouraging actors to make their roles more interesting physically by introducing quirky mannerisms. There are of course some examples in professional theatre of actors actually playing animals such as the Lion King, but the point of this exercise is to create human characters with animal characteristics.

For the starter activity I asked the students (aged 6-16) to consider what animal each of their teachers resembled. The responses were hilarious!

I did recognise some themes emerging. The singing teacher was compared to a bear and a ferret – apparently she is lovable but fierce. The dance teacher was a monkey or a snake – carefree and fun but flexible and agile in her movement. The kids had great fun with the principal who was compared to a wide range of animals from a bald eagle to an elephant, the one that amused me the most was the Meerkat apparently in part because he reminded them of Sergei from the “compare the market” adverts and partially because “he likes to look like he is in charge but really isn’t”.

I regretted opening up the discussion of what animal I would be as soon as I said it. I have taught some of my students for 8 years and have a lot of affection for them, it was interesting to hear their perception of me. I was most commonly a lioness or tigress. They suggested I was powerful, in control and fierce. One little girl said “We wouldn’t want to get on the wrong side of you!”

I am both flattered and offended at the same time!

As a dramatist I care about my reputation and like to be liked and n one really wants to be fearsome to children do they? Then again a little fear can be a good thing as it is one means of managing behaviour and achieving results as long as it is not the only defining quality of the relationship.

Ironically in my full time position where I may be in most need of commanding at least a little fear, the kids compared me to a sodding penguin! Apparently this is because I wear a lot of black and white, I am fairly short and stand with my feet turned out in fifth position. I am not sure that I in any way resemble the personality of a penguin although my husband was quick to ask, “Is it because you waddle?”

I remember a very challenging PSHEE lesson two years ago when I was talking about how your family influence your choices in life and I spoke about how I was inspired by my own mother who was also a teacher. One shaky little hand went up and a boy asked anxiously, “Miss, is your Mum as scary as you are?”

When I told my Mother about this she laughed until her sides nearly split at my reply “No she’s even scarier!”

Obviously I would prefer that the kids I teach work well for me because they like me and want to please me. I don’t really like the idea that I may be feared by some of them, but if nothing else works it does help that they know you have teeth…

…or claws, or fangs, or even flippers!

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2 responses

3 02 2013
strawberrypip

If you are a lioness or tigress though, that would make them your cubs (… or eaten I suppose :p )

3 02 2013
zehirablog

Oh I like the thinking there!

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