This post is in the Educators category

Dear Reader

I’m starting to learn how to force my Theory of Mind¬†when engaged in teaching activities. It’s not such a crazy idea to try to take the perspective of the students, figure out if they understand what you’re on about, if they’re bored, lost, asleep.

I’m starting to learn ways to get them to tell me what is going on behind the faces instead of trying to do it by intuition, empathy that is just not there. Through doing so I have discovered that the ToM of many of my students is not so hot either. When I ask them to explain a concept, the answer is full of half sentences, “you knows” and ambiguity. I have taken to interrupting them mid-scamble and saying something like “20 words or less please, I’ll come back to you” or “write me a haiku”. It started off as a joke, then became an exercise for exam revision – the short answer, essence of concept – and has become a standard teaching technique.

I’m also finding that asking my students in audio engineering to talk very openly about what they like and dislike, and make comparisons is a useful thing. Many times they will compare to another piece of music, it may be something that others don’t know, so there is an opportunity to break it down further, to find intellectual and experiential common ground.

I enter a classroom knowing that I will learn from my students now, if not the facts, then the insights. It takes a while with each cohort, but by being very open and letting them know that my experience of sound and music might be different to theirs and theirs might also be unique, the students are starting to open up their own minds to others.

I can point out that some people experience things through intuition and empathy, others through observation and logic. I can ask for them to express their feelings for music to me in ways I might understand.

In return I can show them the sounds, the patterns, the details, the envelopes, the spaces that make them feel that way.

As I have commented in the Researchers section of these Implications, sharing your own mind helps people to understand the context of their own.

I feel lucky to have all these minds in front of me that teach me new things.

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