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The Posturometer

Sitting up straight? Spine aligned? Eyes at attention?

Well if they aren’t, it’s not all your fault. It’s mine as well. Posture communicates a lot more than one would think about one’s state of mind, but it’s a mutual relationship. In the tutoring session, we see posture in the student as a duality: it measures his commitment to the content and his enthusiasm towards the session.

I’m a TV writing major, so let me tie it back to that. If I’m writing an intensely emotional character scene or climax, I’m not slouching. My eyes are too close to the keyboard most of the time, my spine is pointed straight to the sky, and my fingers are at attention.

The closer I get to the screen, the closer I am to the content. The closer the student is to the paper, the closer he is to the content.

If we see a student leaning back, stradling the chair, dangling one hand between his legs as he writes with the other– his position coming into the session is clear. But here comes the second part: posture also shows us how well the tutor is doing in the session! The changes we notice in our writers pinpoint the constant emotional flux of the session.

If we excite the student or get him to open up, it is almost undoubted that he will sit up straight and lean in. Here we find a variation of the above rule: the closer the student is to the tutor, the closer he is to the session.

This isn’t to say that we should try to make writing sessions into love fests, rather that we have the ability to gauge what the student is feeling without having to ask him. Posture is a golden and almost unfallible indication of the student’s placement in a session. By processing his or her’s body language, we can better adjust the session in a holistic way, as many writing center theorists encourage.

I’d like to tie this up by saying that posture isn’t exclusively a writing-based determinant. It is a measurement that unites the metaphysical world of thoughts, enthusiasm, and focus with the physical world in which we operate.

I once had a French horn instructor who told me that she got the chance to interview a master of music on the three most imporant things to playing music well. He said number one was posture. He said number two was posture. And he said number three was how well the brass was polished.

Kidding. It was posture.

Check yours right now, and then let me how I did with engaging you in this post.


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