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Monday, May 21, 2007

Teachers and Students - Method Works For Some, Destroys Others

I just woke from a dream.

In the dream a music teacher, which I am not, was confronted by past students. Some came to fight, some to hug, some came in fear, others came rejoicing. In the dream I was a parent of a child that had refused instruction from this music teacher. Though I had supported my daughter, I now had doubts.


What was interesting is that the music teacher was preparing for a fight. In fact he was waiting for a returning student that now entered proclaiming "you gave me method when what I had needed was to learn expression." The teacher even pulled out and offered a twisted cane, knowing this was the weapon that student would chose for the fight.

Before they could engage in battle the first student invited in another student, this second student cringed away from the teacher like a much beaten dog. The teacher held out a favored instrument of student two, a guitar, almost like an offering - the second student edged back and out of sight without touching the guitar.

The first student now proclaimed the entry of a third student and her new husband; a warrior. The teacher cringed back as this pair approached, but they rushed at him - and gave him a group hug of gratitude. There were others waiting to enter the room, but I woke up ...

What can we take from this dream?

A reminder that children are individuals, with individual needs (I might add that adults are individuals too). A formal institutional school may suit some, stifle others. I believe in most instances the individual can best choose what suits them. For parents that often leaves us in the "wise advisory" role rather than being a consistent authority supporter.

As teachers we must realize that we also are individuals. We will work best in one type of environment, with a particular type of student, in disciplines that are suited to our personal teaching style. To avoid frustration and a quick burn out we must search for and enter into positions that support our own style.

Occasionally a hammer is needed to drive a nail straight into hard wood. But as I'm sure you have heard;
"when your only tool is a hammer, every problem becomes a nail." Nails and hard wood need a hammer, scroll work in brittle thin wood does not.

There are a lot of articles about student tragedies created by required schooling - there is also much evidence of successes.
We are left with questions rather than answers.

  • What if teachers only accepted students that needed their teaching style to excel?
  • What if a student spent time under various styles until they found those that maximized their learning potential?
  • What if we recognized that students know what they desire to learn; and it is the desire of the student, not the pontificating of an authority, that is key to effective education.
  • And finally what if we act on the idea that we all are individuals, that we know what is best for ourselves today.

We and our needs, including learning, will change over time. This too is within the realm of the individual. Perhaps that teacher in my dream would have had different responses from his students at different points in their lives.

A lot of questions and no answers, but then it was just a dream.


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| 8:11 AM - link to the above post <- email this journal entry

2 Comments:

Blogger Sherry said...

A good reminder, especially since I'm inclined to see the youngest ds as something of a nail. ;-)

9:29 PM  
Anonymous Allan Wallace said...

Sherry,

Thanks for the comment.

I probably should have mentioned that each of us has parts that need a hammer, and parts that just need a gentle polish.

12:03 AM  

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