What is it about?

Professional training that requires the capacity for empathy and connection will inevitably have an impact on both teachers and their students. Young people who desire to train as actors are very keen to show their emotions. Teachers encourage in students a quality of vulnerability which I like to define as the capacity to affect and be affected by others. However, young people are still learning about their sense of identity, and some may even have experienced some significant distress or trauma that they haven't fully processed. So we need ethical guidelines in places of actor training to help teachers know how to wisely nurture vulnerability and to help students have a sustainable creative practice not overwhelmed by intense feeling. I recommend that we can learn from ethical research how to shape more ethical teaching.

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Why is it important?

While my research focus has been on the training of actors I believe that the values of ethical teaching in matters of human vulnerability could be extended to the training and professional formation of many other professionals who deal regularly with high emotional distress and potentially traumatisation - this could include doctors, lawyers, nurses, first responders, journalists, police, military, social workers, spiritual carers. All these professionals need to honour rather than minimise their own vulnerability. Vulnerability - the capacity to affect and be affected by others - is what enables us to connect with others and serve them in the best possible way, rather than try to ignore or shut down our own sensitivity. Otherwise, if we try to ignore or numb ourselves, we will impact not only our professional work but also our significant personal relationships. Ethical training is crucial to honouring our innate vulnerability as human beings

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This page is a summary of: The ethics of embodiment: actor training and habitual vulnerability, Performing Ethos International Journal of Ethics in Theatre and Performance, October 2010, Intellect, DOI: 10.1386/peet.1.1.5_1.
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