a reflection on teaching 2

And the week went very well. The students were keen and engaged, they were (essentially all) undertaking our institutionally expected precautions, and we are all working our way back into a Before Times rhythm of classroom interaction. I’m sure that the nervousness will persist for some weeks, until we can all see how things will settle down.

Aikido has also been going well; my reactions are less rusty than I’d feared they would be under the pressure of an actual grab, but yes there is still some rust and it will take time and practice, but positivity reigns at the moment.

I’m starting now to work through old things, ideas that have been circulating around in my brain for some long time now. One of these, which I may have touched on in some post in the past, is the notion of contact.

In aikido, contact is critical to the success of anything. This may be physical contact, uke with a firm grasp of my wrist, or mental contact, where I as tori, the person doing the technique, manifest my attention in both my movement and my uke’s movement. This ability to be able to invade my uke’s intention and influence my uke’s intention is what I have been working towards and continue to work towards.

The same notion of contact applies to teaching. I can walk into a room and start talking, but if I don’t have the attention of the audience, if I’m not influencing the intention of my audience, then all I’m doing is contributing to noise to the room.

This gets back to some of the points I touched on last week. I was nervous about my ability to make this contact with my students, but that nervousness seems to be misplaced, as we have made contact. People coming up with questions after a lecture, a session, is a key indicator for me, because if someone has been paying enough attention to be curious about something or confused by something, then at least they’re been paying some attention.

So I will continue to think through ways of making contact with my students, my mathematics students and my aikido students. Part of this will be thinking through my presentation of the material, both in the classroom and through the virtual channels such as the module Blackboard site. And part of it will be moments of structured spontaneity.

~ by Jim Anderson on 10 October 2021.

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