That Intangible Factor (and Larry King, too)


I’m reading Larry King’s latest book. He tells great stories about everyone imaginable. Here’s one about Al Pacino and one of his first stage plays:

The production had a crowd scene. In this scene, a bomb went off. Al’s part called for him to yell, “That sounds like a bomb!”

He rehearsed the line all week.

“That sounds like a bomb!”

“That sounds like a bomb!”

“That sounds like a bomb!”

They never set the bomb off during rehearsal. They just told him that the sound would come on opening night.

On opening night, the scene arrived, and the bomb went off. BOOM!

And Al said, “What the **** was that?”  (p. 105)

Is there anything better than a good story?

My husband is a natural storyteller. In fact, this was one reason I was attracted to him. Unlike other guys I’d dated, his “repeat stories” didn’t get on my nerves. Instead, those stories have evolved over the years and can still make me laugh. (His jokes, on the other hand, need work.)

The real power of story is its ability to connect.

Teachers know this power. If you want to build relationships with your students, you tell them stories, stories about your childhood, about crazy things that have happened to you, about your travels, about your kids. Your stories, their stories become the fire around which you all gather to warm your hands.

But why bother?

Because good teachers know something else: Connection is crucial to learning.

This recently hit home for Professor Michael Wesch, award-winning advocate of technology in the classroom. Wesch is currently on a sabbatical, “rethinking the fundamentals of teaching—and questioning his own advice.” For years, he’s been championing the cause of media in the classroom. But when numerous colleagues came to him complaining that they couldn’t replicate his results, he began to examine his methods. He now offers a new caveat: “It doesn’t matter what method you use if you do not first focus on one intangible factor: the bond between professor and student.” (For the full article, click here.)

Willie Shoemaker, the famous jockey, was once asked about one of his competitors: What makes him a great jockey? And he said, “Horses run for him.”

We know that great teachers get students to learn for them. Yes, we claim we can’t make students learn (“You can lead a horse to water…”)—but this I believe: students will learn from us when they are ready to learn for us.


2 thoughts on “That Intangible Factor (and Larry King, too)

  1. Well now I know what Tammy was talking about. I have just read through all the postings and felt absolutely delighted to read your journey thus far. You are so right it is all about making connections with students and letting them know we care. Looking forward to reading more.

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