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best teacher dies

updated sun 5 feb 12


mel jacobson on sat 4 feb 12

i just read in the paper that one of my favorite of all
time teachers at the u of minnesota died this week.

arthur ballet. theatre teacher.
like 87.

he was the master.
as he said...`all teaching is acting`.

he inspired, joked, told stories, put on tiny plays
with himself.
his classes have been packed for 50 years.
i would stop and sit in the back whenever i had
free time. i must have seen his class six times over.

i learned.

establish trust, and then keep them off balance
from then on.
never let them know what you are going to do or
be ten minutes later.

he would limp on stage, speak in a fake french accent.
then switch to russian. i saw him one day ask a young women
to walk up on stage...she just stood there for about 15 minutes.
he ignored her.
of course everyone wanted to know what was going to happen
with her. nothing. he just wanted us to think something was
going to, it did in our minds. all of our attention
was focused on her...not him. distractions cause teaching/learning to
stop. he snapped us back to him, then taught us that trick.
it stays forever in the mind.

like i just said...`timing is everything`. he had it in spades.
but, of the hundreds of teachers i had over the years...he was
the best at doing what he taught. `life is theatre`.
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