Rock-n-Roll learning with Robert Plant … there’s so much we can take away from any performance, and so much we should give back. This Learning Hook blog is not so much about eLearning for a change, but about the performance in facilitation. Read on for more on our rock and roll heritage in the classroom (or just skip to the important bit!)…
Last night I saw Robert Plant play at Rod Laver arena in Melbourne – maybe 40% Led Zeppelin, and 60% from his diverse solo catalogue. The band and Plant were truly great (OK, I’m a bit of a fan… if you have not really explored his post Zeppelin work, I highly recommend the Band of Joy album from 2010 – that is, if you’re after some ‘gentlemanly-folkish-blues’). An observation our group made, and which was just so obvious to us throughout the night, was the crowd’s quite absurd behavior.
The behavior we thought absurd was that for probably 50% of the set list, the band received standing ovations, whoops and general pleasure from the audience – but only at the end of each song. When they were actually playing, very VERY few people in the stadium stood up, let alone danced. It was hard to spot just some gentle rocking or foot tapping! Just a huge dome filled with what seemed either gob smacked or to be blunt, prudishly reserved fans of this Rock god that hasn’t played on our shores for I think 17 odd years. Many of the men I thought looked like they were studying him like ‘The Thinker’ (Rodin’s famous sculpture).
When the concert opened, there was no doubt a certain amount of being awestruck for fans – this is a guy that has been voted by numerous rock magazines as the best rock lead vocalist of all time. But this passes as songs progress and you just want to get into it right? Well not for most of this Melbourne crowd. It was embarrassingly reserved. The silent treatment during the performances was even commented on by Plant. But the topic of this blog is the strange and absurd behaviour at the end of songs, when the crowd would erupt, showing their love and exuberance. There was no doubt the audience was loving what they were hearing – but you would never know it if a song didn’t end.
The important bit!
So now back to learning. Perhaps facilitators/teachers are not rock gods… ok, definitely not. But they are performers, and performers get better when they interact with the audience – which is not a one way conversation; when there’s a dialogue that forms between the facilitator/teacher and the crowd; when the teacher/facilitator hears and sees reaction as they perform, it helps them cater on the fly for what they see as working, or not. It’s a dynamic that’s hard to replicate outside of a live performance. The album might be a perfect capture session, or what the producer believes to be best for most audiences (just like eLearning captures and standardises best practice – but is often static); the live performance in comparison offers the unexpected, opportunities for much MUCH more, that suits the time, place and audience’s needs – but how much of this gain is realised in the performance is as much dependent on the audience as the performer; it’s the audience and facilitator/teacher’s relationship or ‘performance dynamic’ together.
So in this way – there is an onus on us as learners or as audience members to give back to the performer/facilitator – it’s not just polite, but there’s something in it for us; it makes for a hugely better performance where things happen the artist didn’t expect too. If there’s no interaction i.e. “We’ll just sit here and let you impress us, or we’ll pretend to be judges on an Idol-esque show”, the performer facilitator will only ‘play by the numbers’ when faced with the silent treatment (we may as well buy the album then).
We let R. Plant down a little last night as a city (my sister, beautiful wife and I might not have though – we did have a good rock out in front of our seats – but felt very lonely and a bit embarrassed!). Let’s not let our next facilitator down, and give back to them to get more from the event ourselves.
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