Symbiosis in Education

When playing a night scene, bring daylight to it, and when playing an old man, bring a youthful feeling to it; when you play a demon, do it with gentleness.

This beautiful description explains how to bring a deeply expressive richness to the skill of Acting. It incorporates the idea of Symbiosis, and important concept in this day and age, and enjoyable to think about why it seems to make this quote work so well.

Each thing that is being played – a night scene, an old man, a demon – brings with it a distinct implication with a distinct set of possible meanings. It exists as its own style, or object, alone. Even a bad actor can convey the basic thought of “an old man” by walking around the room rather normally, sign on his back reading “Old Man”. The existence of an opposing style, here youthfulness, brings life into the portrayal because caricatures are unchanging, not having to negotiate existence among other objects in time. The opposing youthfulness forces the caricature out of isolation, and into a negotiation of common space where the two (old and young) must coexist. An ecology is created in this common space. Perhaps, even, the idea of added value is exhibited.

This exists everywhere in life, and I’ll give two examples relative to my own. In first learning to snowboard it doesn’t take long to realize that once the balance is figured out, it can be painfully easy to ride as fast as any professional can. What drives progression as a snowboarder is the ability to control and use breaking. The basic idea behind the activity is to ride standing on this board down a mountain of snow; what gives life to this activity is its coexistence with the opposing skill of being able to stop the downward motion, thus creating the Sport.

The second example is in learning English. One of the biggest problems for emerging English language speakers is that native level language use (speaking and listening) is done as such fast speeds. Learners often find speech too fast to catch, often thinking that they need to speak as quickly as possible. Pausing and stops create a controlled flow of speech, that may sound fast from an overall perspective, but is actually broken into an up and down flow of language chunks. When students learn about and try to use pauses better, they’re maybe able to recognize spoken language easier and able to control their own speech more usefully, with a certain life to it.

Anyone who has heard the difference between someone speaking in monotone fragments, and someone using a varied flow knows how the existence of opposing elements (the speed of language automation vs pauses/stops) can create the difference between mere symbol recognition and language use.

I would guess there are many other examples of Symbiosis in Education.


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