Has anyone studied the biochemical changes experienced by teachers while they are teaching? I guess it would be difficult to stick wires all over someone's head and body and still reproduce a normal teaching environment (in most cases). I am curious about this, though, because I had a weird experience recently with the effect of teaching on my health.
Not long ago, I was quite ill. I had seen a couple of doctors, had some tests done, and was scheduled for more owing to concerns based on the initial test results. In the meantime, I had to go about my life and work, although I was in some pain and feeling quite weak and shaky.
During one particularly horrible day, a phone consultation with my doctor resulted in her telling me that I should go immediately to an emergency room to get checked out. I said OK, I would.
But first I taught my class.
I was kind of worried about that. How could I do a good job teaching when I felt so awful? How would I be able to speak lucidly for 50 minutes? How could I walk around the classroom as I like to do? How could I even write on the board? But at the same time: How could I miss class?
I don't know what happened, but while I was teaching, I felt fine. I even felt really good; the best I had felt in days. I thought to myself, as I was covering the board with science hieroglyphics, "I am feeling so much better, I don't need to go to the hospital."
Then I finished the class, talked to the students who had questions after class, and went back to my office. I still felt good and decided not to go the hospital.
Then I crashed, and my husband rushed my collapsed self to the ER. It ended up being a very bad week overall.
Aside from the fact that the post-teaching crash was extremely unpleasant, thereby eliminating the possibility of patenting a Teaching Cure for Certain Physical Ailments, it was kind of interesting how I was temporarily able to stave off the pain and weakness by teaching. Of course, I don't really know what the students thought -- perhaps I was saying and doing bizarre things and didn't know it -- but I think the class went well.
Certainly I have had also the opposite happen while teaching, especially if I teach with a severe head cold or sore throat. In those cases, the teaching hour can be excruciating (perhaps for everyone in the room).
I would not teach if I had a serious contagious illness, but in general, it's difficult to cancel a class for a routine ailment or even a more significant affliction if the class is at a critical time (e.g., first week of the term or just before an exam).
Has anyone else felt biochemically/biophysically affected in a good way while teaching a class? Can teaching be a temporary miracle cure for what ails us?
13 years ago