A little thought about perfection

One of those winter Saturdays when you catch a cold and have a chance to spend a quiet day at home with a TV show  on at the background. One challenge that young artists had to face today was to sing in a duo with a famous and experienced singer. One thing caught my attention in relation to teaching and learning: a star who was performing with a 15-year-old boy was holding the song’s lyrics in her hand (and referring to that paper a lot) and at one point forgot whose turn it was to sing a particular line.

One potential impression could be that she simply was under-prepared. Maybe. My other thought though was that she could have done that on purpose. Perhaps we teachers can help a learner by being imperfect?  Although acting imperfectly can take courage,it eventually might help the students shine. What kind of learning experience leaves more impact and change: having a teacher who is doing everything impeccably, or being taught by someone who can also make mistakes openly? (have a feeling that I am stating the obvious but it really impressed me this evening)

** the link to that song I am talking about

One partially related blog post that made me think again about perfection was written yesterday by Seth Godin.

About Zhenya

ELT: teacher educator, trainer coach, reflective practice addict https://wednesdayseminars.wordpress.com/.
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3 Responses to A little thought about perfection

  1. Ron Bradley says:

    That is an interesting thought, that perfection on the part of the mentor can potentially discourage the learner, so that making mistakes may help the learner realize that it is okay to be imperfect and make mistakes.

    Another take on why the “expert” made a mistake could be that she was so absorbed in the moment that she forgot where she was. Now depending on what aspect of the moment she was absorbed in could be negative or positive. If she was absorbed in her moment, that is only self aware, then we might judge this a negative, but if she was absorbed in the boy’s moment–appreciating what he was doing with the music–then we could consider this to be a positive moment, On the other hand, if she was thinking negative thoughts about the boy’s performance, then this wouldn’t be constructive Couldn’t this apply to our own teaching and our learners? If we forget what we are doing or why we are doing it and make “mistakes”, is it because we are absorbed in our own mechanics, our own “brilliance”, or is it because we are absorbed in the students’ learning processes and for some reason forget to “have the students pair check their answers”? Neither is a good thing, but it seems to me that being student centered is preferable, even if not perfectly implemented. .


    • Zhenya says:

      Thank you for reading and commenting Ron! First of all, what you wrote reminded me that I can find the link to that song I am talking about http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xdu2nkLH2yM.

      It is just a little over 4 minutes long, and the moment I was writing about is at about 2.14. I think it was more about her being in the boy’s moment. The song is about the Guardian Angel (her?) standing behind one’s shoulder. Maybe a little bit of context would be helpful too: the boy is 15 years old, no music education, comes from quite a poor family living in the rural Ukraine, working hard on his parents’ farm, is cheerful and kind and gifted, as you can hear in this recording (live at that moment) I think given all this information it is easier to see that she was helping him not being ‘perfect’, or maybe it is more of my own reflection and perception. The boy won the main prize in this National Show for 2013, by the way.

      Another possible reason I saw this moment in the positive light was that a couple years before I saw another similar duo, where the start was singing much more than a contestant, louder than her, being present on the stage much more than that young singer. I looked at this from the perspective of a trainer in training learning from a ‘master’ and being seen not in the best shape. Perhaps too much analysis on one little bit though.

      I think if we consider learners (of English?) and teachers, then perhaps I could imagine a situation where a student is taking a language speaking test and needs a speaking partner, and a teacher being this partner (where her own language skills are not being assessed and she can be a little ‘worse’ than perfect to let her student shine) Not sure if this makes sense. What I am sure by now that I have just articulated my own belief about teaching and training: let the learner be seen in the best light possible, let them shine, and feel successful while learning. On reflection, anything can be ‘fixed’ and in the future those happy moments will help to become better.

      Would you agree with this as a Trainer of Trainers yourself?

      Thank you for writing (always!), and for thinking about it together


  2. Pingback: One Presentation Reflection | Wednesday Seminars

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