Sunday, October 28, 2012

Confident, "power" pronunciation: in 2 minutes?

Photo credit: Ted.blog.com
Clip art: Clker
Here is a 21-minute TED talk by Amy Cuddy well worth watching, "Your body language shapes who you are"--for several reasons. First, at a superficial level it seems to agree with Lessac's "Train the body first" dictum. Second, it is another example of "discovering" biochemical and neurophysiological correlates to body state changes that impact emotional or cognitive performance. Third, it is also wonderfully ethnocentric, egocentric and culturally suspect. What professor Cuddy is recommending is basically (based on what appears to be a solid, experimental, laboratory study): striking and holding a "powerful" pose for 2-minutes to both feel more like an Alpha-fe/male and at the same time boost your power-hormone, testosterone--before going into that meeting where you need to be . . . well . . .more confident and in control.

We know from past research (and this blogpost or that one) that such procedures "work" in some settings. Lessac's system involves any number of body and voice awareness and re-orientation techniques that gradually and systematically change the "vocal life" of the student. As part of a (haptic) integrated method, there is some sense in that. But listen carefully to how Cuddy contextualizes her personal experience to persuasively situate her suggestion that you simply "power up" your posture using the same experimental protocol as in her research. (Any time you see the qualifier "power" before the name of a therapy, technique or training system, step back for 2 minutes, take a deep breath and approach with extreme caution.) Given the cultures, emerging identities (and genders) in your language/pronunciation class, how would that play? Caveat emptor . . . 

1 comment:

Angelina Van Dyke said...

Avoid power struggles at all costs, I say. Peace happens when we see things from another's perspective, know our own, and respect both in uncovering any misunderstandings. Creating a third space where one and the other can awaken to glory and become more than he or she is makes teaching exciting for me.

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