HUMMING IN MY UNIVERSE By Jim Paredes (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 4, 2016 – 12:00am
It was the last day of my “Special Topics in Performance and Practice” class this semester. One of my requirements was that students had to do a performance before the semester ended.
I told them what I wanted, and that was to take me to a place where I had never been before and show me who they really are, what they are passionate about, and reveal a side of themselves I had not seen in class.
This assignment is usually very challenging. That’s because the students have to offer something of themselves. They are not intellectualizing the lessons we learned in class but actually experiencing them. It is all about authenticity and presentation.
It requires the student to, first, show up; second, do it; and third, come from his/her own truth. These are three of the five rules of the creativity topic we tackle in class. But since it is also a performance, they must present themselves to the class, hopefully with surprise and delight!
One student presented her passion for making brownies by sharing the recipe through rap. Another danced ballet to rock music. There were the shy ones whom I never expected to be energetic and creative dancers taking over the stage. Some recited poetry, acted out scenes from plays, sang songs from musicals. Let me say they were all delivered quite impressively.
Some performances were touching in their boldness and honesty. One student sang about his “coming out,” starting the song wearing men’s clothes and by the time the performance ended, he was in a dress and heels. The class broke into applause.
One quiet student did Tai chi and martial arts with great precision. His movements were fluid. We were totally enthralled. A girl shared her success in designing and making bags. Another one shared her creative campaigns in the field of advertising. There wasn’t a performance that left me bored.
After all the honest sharing through their performances, I could sense a feeling of well-being and joy in the room. I sensed that my students felt not just relief but also proud accomplishment. They in turn asked me to perform. I gamely sang a song no one knows about that I wrote years ago. Its melody was too high to sing in the morning without vocalizing. But I did not care. It was an exercise in authenticity.
After I said my goodbyes and posed with everyone for a class picture, I asked all my students to gather in a group hug. I told them how much I appreciated their efforts at coping with this crazy subject they signed up for, and hoped that they learned something in class they could keep and use in their future. I also thanked them for the lessons I learned from them and wished them the very best in life.
Since I started teaching this class, it has evolved a lot. I have learned many things from my students’ feedback as I strive to be a better teacher. Every now and then, I hear from or run into some of them. I have written recommendations for employment. One student invited me to her wedding. Some keep in touch through social media. I continue to bump into those who are in media, especially during rallies, or when I guest on television.
I get a great sense of fulfillment when I see them years later, especially when they bring up the classes they took under me. I am happy to learn that they took a lot of the lessons to heart, and to see them succeeding not only in their careers but also in being good human beings.
This is why I love teaching!