Friday, October 26, 2018

What You Mean and What They Get

In my field of teaching, there are some narrow thinkers, usually in charge of policy, who have the fantasy that telling children the objectives of the lesson when they walk in will assure comprehension. When I mention this in workshops, I usually respond with, “Dream on!”
Of course, a teacher should have objectives in mind, but first off, telling them to the children mostly lets them know, “Okay, here we go. Another boring class taught by some weird grown-up who has no idea how we kids actually learn.” My own strategy of jumping in and doing something or making a casual comment about how cool a kid’s shoes are or asking a provocative question or making a strange comment, like in my recent guest teaching at a school I’ve never been at before when the kids walked in and I said, “Hello! So nice to see you all again, it’s been a long time!” and they all looked at me searchingly thinking, “Are we supposed to know this guy? Never seen him before in my life!”

Well, now I have their interest and we can jump in and do something and near the end, I can ask what we’ve done and how we did it and why we did it and what did they learn and that indeed is the proper order, thank you very much out-of-touch bureaucrat sitting in some office far away.

So one reality is that kids want to do things that is worth their time, whether or not they know ahead of time that it is worthy to do. The other reality is that we can teach the most brilliant lesson that we spent hours preparing and when it comes time for questions, one kid starts eagerly waving her hand and we think she’s going to say something like,

“So I think this body percussion piece is a way not only to teach canon and diminishing phrases, but I noticed that it’s also about duration values and body percussion technique and that each of the four duration values was performed with a different technique, so I’m wondering if it’s always necessary to snap 8th notes and clap quarter notes, or can you also snap quarter notes and clap eighth notes? Oh, I’m also wondering if The Flight of the Bumblebee written in 8th notes or 16th notes?”

Instead, you call on that eagerly waving hand and the question is:

“Didn’t you wear that same shirt yesterday?”

Some people have told me that they’re not able to comment on my Blog, but I do occasionally get some comments. Sometimes I wish there were more so there could be more of an actual dialogue than my monologues, some actual conversation turning an idea over and inside out that was sparked by my post. Thought truth be told, it would probably end up requiring more time than I have at the moment to keep up that level of correspondence. But nevertheless, sometimes I do get comments and more often than not these days, they tend to be of the off-topic “same-shirt?” kind. For example, someone just responded to a post I wrote four years ago (Feb. 23rd, 2014) about precisely this kind of nonsensical jumping through hoops educational policymakers are making people do and the comment I got was:

nice blogs
great information
VLCC Institute Makeup Courses gives you the platform to become a Professional Makeup Artist by learning from the best in the Beauty Industry. Our state-of-the-art Makeup Classes will walk you through everything that goes into establishing a successful career in this fun, fast-paced and fabulous industry.

Huh? Were they suggesting that their Make-Up Classes are free from such educational policy and we would get right down to lipstick application and eye-shadow? Help me out here.

Meanwhile, for those who are wondering, it was the same shirt I wore yesterday.

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