The Importance of Eye Contact or Brown- Eyed Girl


How we look at others makes a difference. Do we have kind or judgmental eyes? Do our eyes flutter with faith or shutter with sarcasm? For students who look before they hear, our eye contact is crucial. How we look at everyone–our spouse, our children, our friends, our employees, our employers, our teachers, strangers–conveys our intention.

I remember a case in 1989 when a teacher transferred to our school and joined our English department. He seemed like a nice enough guy, but every time he looked at me, his expression was harsh and cold, as if he had just emerged from spending the night in a meat locker.

One day, in his classroom, I asked him if he liked me.

What do you mean, do I like you? Of course I like you. Why would you even ask me such a silly question?

Well, you usually look like you don’t like me. Your eyes are, well, unfriendly.

We had a frank discussion.

Years before, my son Ben had come home from his first day of 4th grade. I asked him how he liked Mrs. Thompson.

She has kind eyes was his response. This short but matter-of-fact educational gem of an observation caused me to pause. Kind eyes. Kind eyes. Kind eyes. Ben was on to something.

Much has been written about the eyes in poetry, in speeches, in prose. My favorite quotation about the power of our gaze was written by William Blake in the 18th Century.

As a man is, so he sees. As the eye is formed, such are its powers.

When my father Hugh wanted to interrogate his four children to find out which rapscallion had tasted 7 different See’s Candies and redeposited them back in their little brown wrappers, he furrowed his brow, shrunk his eyelids around his dark brown eyes, and looked accusingly into our chocolate souls. Those eyes were no-nonsense. Don’t lie to me. We didn’t. Confession erupted only seconds after Dad’s eyes burrowed into our little sneaky selves.

The first day of school in my English Honors 11 class usually found me in front of 35 rather concerned pairs of eyes, all scanning for clues about the small woman who would determine the grade in one of the most important years of school. Although I delivered the rules and the syllabus in a firm but humorous manner, my eyes told the whole story.

My eyes will not be arrogant, deceptive, mean, or superior.
My eyes will be kind, hopeful, encouraging, and curious.

My eyes will be probing, perplexed, confident, and happy.
My eyes will let you know what I am feeling and thinking.

Most of all, my eyes will draw you into the lesson, into my passion for books, writing, and speaking.

Clearly, the eyes have it.

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About Cheri

Writer, artist, cable television host, grandmother to four!
This entry was posted in Writing and Teaching. Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to The Importance of Eye Contact or Brown- Eyed Girl

  1. tsblock says:

    Great topic. This is so true. I think the very act of focusing on our own eyes, or how we present ourselves helps to understand what messages we are conveying. So, if we think we are in a bad mood, it will show. If we THINK we are confident, enthusiastic, and disciplinary, that is the experience we create. This is why the truly great teachers–as I have learned in my short experience as a teacher and young professional–are those who can leave their personal problems at the door, and become absorbed in the environment of their classroom. This is a really hard thing to do.

  2. tsblock says:

    I agree that participation should not make or break an A for the student. However, I think participation should be a mandatory grade for all students. Although there are students with personalities that don´t particularly function well in a participatory environment, I think it is a teacher´s job to constantly encourage those shy students to develop that self confidence. I think a small participation grade helps to apply gentle pressure on the student to overcome their fears. Without this pressure, students become accustomed to the idea that success can come without basic communication skills, which is simply not true (in my opinion).

  3. meryl's musings says:

    So, did a friendship develop after your frank discussion with the new teacher with harsh eyes? Congrats on being the Blog of Note for today.

  4. celebritae says:

    interesting topic in here!!!
    i just started my first blog today…
    only because i need some way to speak out about my feeling, that’s all!!!

    but after i read urs, i think i probablly, do much more thing that i expect.

    good day

  5. Rozeta Yaghoub says:

    I like this topic because it brings up the importance of body language. you would not like to talk to someone who has sunglasses on, simply because there is no eye contact and when there is no eye contact you can not determine of their interest of the conversation. ” so i heard they eye is the only gap that goes through the a persons brain and mind”, that may be the reason why eye contacts are so important. However, on the other side, class discussions are a different case. its a longer session of argument or participation. in some cases, you might be engaged staring to a pen but you are really listening and contemplating about the subject.

  6. Rozeta Yaghoub says:

    Body contact is very important, and eyes play a bog role in that part.

  7. Anonymous says:

    This topic is very interesting and brings the importance of each and everone’s judgement of their sense of eye sight. On their appearence to what their eyes’s meesage that they are conveying to other people’s perspective.
    By the way, this is my first time seeing your blog and love it! Also Im kind of like you too, I like books, writing, and speaking too!
    P.S. Im in Grade 6! I was thinking to make a blog. Should I?

  8. Anonymous says:

    I like this topic because it brings up the importance of each and everyone’s judgement of their sense of eye sight. The person’s eye’s conveying the message of someone else’s perspective.
    By the way, this is my first time I’ve seen your blog and I love it! Also, I’m kind of like you too, I like books, writing, and speaking as well.
    P.S. I’m in grade 6! I was thinking to create a bolg. Should I?

  9. Best Teacher EVER says:

    What a wonderful post!

    Thanks!

  10. Billy says:

    Thanks for this excellent post! I’m a teacher myself and Ive’ been repeatedly examined by my students’ eyes. One thing for sure is that you can’t hide your feelings away from your students!

  11. Anonymous says:

    This article brings awareness to each and every last one of us. There is not a day that goes by that we all doesn’t come into contact with one another. I am a firm beleiver that your eye’s tells the whole story. That your eye’s tells the truth and nothing but the truth. If everyone stayed at focus on eye contact, we all would be able to figure out where this world is really heading.

  12. inaez says:

    Once, attending a book signing, the author greeted me by looking right into my eyes in a way that made me feel quite special that day. Commenting to a friend about the incidence made me realize how much eye contact with someone can say so much. I am sure the author will never remember me, but she made me feel important.

    Inaez

  13. Whitethorn Kid Journal says:

    I am a retired School Psychologist turned writer. I wrote reports everyday for 30 years so I have not gotten around to writing until the past 4 or five years. Nice to follow your blog since our backgrounds have some similarity. I like your writing as well. Whitethorn Kid.

  14. Rocky Ana says:

    what a wonderful post.good

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