Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Performing admirably

In the latest Star Trek movie, young Spock is asked at a moment of crisis by the very alluring Uhura, “Is there anything you need?” This question is accompanied, incidentally, by a look which suggested that he could have asked for just about anything.

His response is memorable: “I need everyone to continue performing admirably.”

I have been wondering: what might be the meaning of “admirably”? My old Longman’s dictionary gives admirable as “worthy of admiration; excellent,” while admiration is “delighted contemplation of something worthy or beautiful; esteem, respect.” Since the concept clearly has something to do with being watched (one thinks of the Spanish, mirar, to look or watch, as well as the more obvious English admire), Spock might therefore be interpreted as calling for his shipmates to be always performing tasks as though they were being observed closely and critically.

In order to do so, you must know what it means to be so observed: in our case, for your lesson plan and its execution to be watched closely and assessed in detail. For a full realization, one must also have the experience of being the observer: what is involved in watching a language lesson closely? What is involved in seeing a language educator facilitate a lesson, and interpreting the events through a critical lens?

Introduction to Classroom Observation involves the latter, learning to observe closely. The Practicum embraces the former, being observed. Together, they provide the whole observation experience, including the opportunity to reflect upon every facet.

So I wish this for my students: may you select worthy objects of observation, so that all your experiences may be of “delighted contemplation.” And may all your own observed lessons be both worthy and things of beauty, thus arousing nothing but delight, esteem and respect in your observers.

May we all continue performing admirably.

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