What are the boundaries for exploring emotional effects in the class room?
Students had been given a simple task for homework:
1. Have someone whisper in your ear – a poem, song lyric, any other text committed to heart.
2. Note down the sensation – not your feelings, musings, or a new poem – stay in the sensuous experience of the whispering.
In class, they were asked to share their observations by reading out loud from their notes or recounting the sensation from memory. Two members of the staff were present, The I and The S, and that may have helped the following situation unfolding.
Much to my surprise, I was deeply touched by the students descriptions. The memories the experience had invoked, the subtle descriptions, and the earnestness in which it was shared completely took me aback.
I felt that is was important, in that particular moment, to share my emotion with them – not being completely overwhelmed, I simply stated that I was very happy that we had done this exercise, and that it had moved me deeply to hear of their experiences and feel their earnestness.
Afterwards, I let the class fall silent. It sprung from the moment – I believed everybody had to give this experience (of sharing, and of moving someone unexpectedly) some thought, and I demanded the time for that, simply by staying immobile in front of the class, looking about the room.
Calmness ensued, time and space opened.
The moment passed. I was well aware of that and knew that I was the person responsible for leading the class to the next point in my plan for that day. But just before I did that, it appeared to me that a few of the students began to feel awkward – this silence took a little longer than the usual teacher break needed for him to gather his thoughts and move on – and it struck me that we could go on and experience that awkwardness, as well. Not for nearly the same amount of time – and too much awkwardness would lead to the magic of this class being broken – but just long enough for me to make a point of it.
I am certain that (almost) everbody experienced the calmness and openness caused by the first emotional exploration – almost the same share felt the awkwardness, but whether they new I was consciously leading them through both, is not entirely clear to me. But does it matter?
My question is: Do emotions belong in a sensuous teaching paradigm?