In this week’s teacher member class, Robert explored with us how to deal with your students’ resistance to your teaching. This resistance can take forms such as distracting behaviour, looking away, and having a quizzical look on one’s face. It can also come in objecting outright to what you’re saying. It was this latter aspect that Robert focused on. Here’s his list of fourteen ways in which to deal with it. (Note: Although these points are in relation to classroom teaching, they also relate to teaching within the context of a teacher-pupil relationship.) Mary Anne
What do you do when your audience is not with you?
1. Protect your goodwill at all costs. It will win them over.
Your goodwill toward them, your pure desire to help, will draw out their receptivity and make them open to your help. How do you protect your goodwill, or recover it if you lose it? It helps to have a short lesson you are practicing that day, that you bring into your mind while doing your talk, and that you have at the ready for just such a possibility.
2. Don’t forget what any relationship is for.
“If you become concerned with totally irrelevant factors, such as the physical condition of the classroom, the number of students, the hour of the course, and the many elements which you may choose to select for emphasis as a basis for misperception, you have lost the knowledge of what any interpersonal relationship is for” (from Helen’s notes)
3. It’s not about you.
“The mistake is always some form of concern with the self to the exclusion of the patient” (M-7.6:1).
4. Don’t be embarrassed by the truth.
“Don’t get embarrassed—things that are true are not embarrassing. Embarrassment is only a form of fear, and actually a particularly dangerous form because it reflects egocentricity” (comment to Helen during the first dictation session).
5. Stand your ground only when standing on truth. Give ground on the rest.
Be always ready to give ground where you can see you have been mistaken. But always stand your ground when you are standing on truth.
6. Don’t lose sight of your core teaching objective.
The Course’s philosophy of goal achievement is to keep the goal always in mind and pull your mind quickly back when you are drawn off course. You, therefore, need to have an objective in mind for this class and keep that objective always before you.
7. Don’t divert from your basic path unless you really need to.
Do not throw away your plan for the class in order to be (or appear) flexible and spontaneous, unless you absolutely have to. I did once, and it didn’t turn out well.
8. Speak to the part of them that really needs this teaching.
Assume there is a part of them that is a friend of your teaching, a part that really needs it and will welcome it gladly if the teaching is seen for what it is. Even while responding to their surface objections, also speak to this part of them.
9. Find out the heart of their objections and affirm what you can of them.
It’s probably a good idea to find out exactly what they are really objecting to, and then affirm what you can of their point of view.
10. Show them how your teaching is in their best interests.
Do this especially by sharing how it has benefited you.
11. Offer support from the Course.
One well-placed quote can settle the matter.
12. Mention that every teaching is distinctive.
Your job is to teach the Course, not another thought system.
13. Offer a gift without requiring that it be accepted.
Offer your teaching in the spirit of offering a gift, but one they do not have to accept. You will never get everyone to agree with your teaching, but don’t let that sour the spirit in which you offer it.
14. Call upon the help of the Holy Spirit.
Make a quick internal appeal for the help of the Holy Spirit. That can make all the difference.