Respect Through Actions


In my first acting class in college my professor declared,

“One cannot be sad, be happy, be angry. You cannot act a state of being. You can only act actions.”

She went onto to describe act as,

“Behaving truthfully under imaginary circumstances.”

Most theatre people I know were also taught some version of this credo. The idea is- you cannot perform a being because states of being (happiness, sadness, anger) are results of actions and circumstances around you.

Frustration is caused by attempting to do something and having it fail. Frustration is the by product- not the formula. When you act you have to be able to do the formula, and formulas are made of actions.

The other day I was walking through an elementary school. I was looking at the artwork displayed on the walls and the slogans the school created.

“Don’t be a bully.”
“Be Respectful”
“Be Kind”

There are many of these plastered around all schools. My high school’s chant is still, “We are BE!”

But then I thought of the fabulous Deborah Kinghorn and wondered,

“Why aren’t we teaching the actions of respect. Wait- what does that even mean?”

The definition of respect is

“ esteem for or sense of the worth or excellence of a person, a personal quality or ability, or something considered as a manifestation of a personal quality or ability.”

In other words an incredibly complex idea.

Instead of trying to teach concepts why don’t we teach the actions that show respect? Also why don’t we as educators hold ourselves to the same standards? I find being honest about why you do an activity or exercise yields more positive results than say, “Because I said so.”

Below is a list of actions I thought of along with a wonderful daily activity I found with a quick Google search. These all seem geared towards young children.

What are some ideas you have for middle/high schoolers? What about us as educators?

Please add to the comments below!

Actions of Respect

  • Speak with kind words
  • Say it in private
  • Listen with your whole body
  • Share the space
  • Ask for clarity
  • Speak in a calm voice