Help needed: difficult teenage student

April 6, 2007 at 04:27 AM · I have a student who is taking a conservatory exam. When we signed up for it, I made it clear to both parent and student that there would need to be certain tasks accomplished in order to do the exam.

Now, it is clear that the student is not ready for the exam. More important, her attitude towards practising has deteriorated (she is overwhelmed). I would like to resolve this with parent and child without putting blame on any one particular party (including myself for allowing it to get to this stage; this is precisely why I dislike these conservatory exams). The student at this point is becoming uncooperative in the lesson.

How I see it so far:

If I tell the parent the student needs an attitude adjustment, the parent will interpret it as the child needing to practice more (but not necessarily better, which is what I prefer). Given the student is already borderline disinterested, I don't know that this would produce the desired result.

Scrap the examination process altogether - in my opinion, this is the ideal outcome. I would like to withdraw her from the exam because I think she's already feeling overwhelmed from the pressure, but I don't want her to feel bad about withdrawing. I am unsure on how to go about this.

My first and foremost concern is the student. I would like to resolve this in my student's best interest, but I'm not exactly sure what that is.

Replies (31)

April 5, 2007 at 09:18 PM · What would you do?

April 6, 2007 at 06:16 AM · Gabriel,

It sounds as if the situation may resolve itself. The problem isn't the conservatory audition process--after all, someone who wants to make a career of it does need to prove him/herself, right?

The problem is that maybe your student isn't cut out for a career in music. I mean, it only gets more stressful, with recitals, juries, and professional auditions. Maybe you should sit down with the student and ask her what she really wants. It may be different than what her parents want. At this point, she should really, really want it. Otherwise, the conservatory will be a miserable experience for her.

April 6, 2007 at 01:36 PM · I hate to read stories such as these.

I value free speech, positive and negative, as both are invaluable for me to reflect upon myself and the world around me. The harsh, objective criticisms directed my way have at times been bitter and difficult to swallow, but the medicine made me a better person. Thankfully, as I age, the frequency is much less :-), and I am better able to look back objectively and reflect upon the kinds of instructors I had.

In your own words:

"....I made it clear to both parent and student that there would need to be certain tasks accomplished in order to do the exam."

"....her attitude towards practising has deteriorated (she is overwhelmed)."

"...without putting blame on any one particular party (including myself..."

The fact you even considered conservatory for your student means you were convinced in your mind she had the talent. Yet, she is unprepared. Yes, withdrawing will be a failure for the student. Of course, the reason must somehow lie with the student or parents or wherever, but certainly not the teacher. ahem.

From your comments and situation, clearly you have properly analysed the task ahead, likely set timings, planned work, held parental discussions, etc. Done all the normal, textbook stuff. Maybe this is how you learned? Of course, you do not wish to blame yourself - how could you be wrong, when you have done everything right? ahem.

As I see it you may be a good task master, but you have failed as a leader. You have failed to mentor your student. Congrats. Now you know your failings as a mentor are transferred to your student. Instead of building a person with confidence, you have contributed to lost self-esteem. What made you think you were a qualified teacher anyway? Ignorance or arrogance? Pressure from parents? Truly, I hate to read stories how some "teacher" has ruined a student's interest.

Reflect long and fully upon this quote, and perhaps you may begin to see....

"If you want to build a ship, don't drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work, and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea." Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Think and look in the mirror: perhaps you will find your answers.

April 6, 2007 at 01:30 PM · Gabriel, is this student scheduled to take the RCM exam?

If your student has not taken the time and effort to properly prepare for a graded exam, then I see no reason why this student should even try. Since you properly outlined your expectations for exam preparation, I wouldn't be too concerned about this student's feelings about withdrawing.

You might find this whole problem a great opportunity to sit down with this student and talk about concrete goals, how to achieve those goals, and why it is important to have goals. If this student is involved in many activities and is feeling "overwhelmed", then now might be the time for this student to decide where violin playing fits into his/her life right now. Once you determine the amount of commitment available, you can develop a practice regime designed specifically for him/her.

Failure can be used as a catalyst for positive change. Or not. This student needs to know that he/she is expected to meet you halfway.

April 6, 2007 at 01:50 PM · i would appreacite a teacher that values candor over diplomacy and call and share with the parents your true feelings. no one likes to deliver bad news, but if there is a problem, let it be known to everyone involved as early as possible. to push an unwilling person into a test is like throwing someone off a cliff. life is short, but long enough to find time and space to step back and reflect and reconsititute a new plan.

a discussion with the parents will be helpful to see if they share your observations about the kid at home, even in other areas.

April 6, 2007 at 02:27 PM · Hi,

Gabriel, I face this situation often, and in the end you need to speak the truth. Honesty and integrity to the student and yourself above all, though you can say it politely and respectfully. I find that in the end, you are doing a disservice to the person by not telling them - you need to shape up! As for the parent, I find it best to leave them out entirely and not bring them up. That will spell disaster, no matter how responsible or not they may be in the matter - believe me, I have learnt this the hard way.

I would say that the student in the end should face the exam no matter what. Whatever the outcome it is a lesson in reality and you can't keep escaping things. Responsablity and facing it is important in music, I believe.

My own two cents... but most of all, good luck. These situations certainly are difficult.


April 6, 2007 at 02:54 PM · my view is that to see a teenager overwhelmed at the prospect of an impending high stress event, with behavior not well understood by the teacher, it is very important to get the parents notified and involved.

if handled inappropriately, this is a set up for psychological issues down the road.

discussing the concerns with the parents should not be viewed by any as a sign of breaking student-teacher confidentiality or something of that nature, or if there is such a thing. the trust is not based on keeping secrets but providing sensible guidance and knowing when to ask for help. the parents should be part of the team. they are still the main care providers of the child and the issue at hand may not be solely musical. they are often the source of very helpful feedbacks.

in fact, if feedback is not presented to the parents by the teacher, i can see some problems coming from there. this does not sound to me like a routine case where the teenager is lazy and needs a kick in the butt. the student now is resistent to what this teacher has to offer.

i do not think the teacher should tell the parents that their kid needs a attitude adjustment. that is a label. just tell the parents what exactly has happened and give them the chance to form their own opinions.

April 6, 2007 at 03:45 PM · You don't mention how old your teenage student is but dont forget that the onset of puberty and/or peer group pressure can go a long way to tilting the balance of a previously equiliberalised student.Most violin teachers go through a variety of different stages with most of their students and this disinterest could be very short lived.Does the student play in orchestra or chamber groups? as this goes a long way to preserving interest and desire for improvement.

April 6, 2007 at 10:23 PM · Thank you everyone for your responses so far.

I certaintly accept that I have a critical role in the learning process, and I am in no way trying to detach myself from that responsibility. Ron, you say, "What made you think that you were a qualified teacher anyway?" To be frank, that is for the parent and student to evaluate. I try my best, and I try to improve. Teaching is something I do purely for interest and pleasure, not because I need to.

This situation starting deteriorating after the insistance of the parent to do a Grade 8 RCM conservatory exam. At the time, I outlined the enormous list of things that would be tested, and I explained that the added pressure in many cases could overwhelm a student with stress. I told them to think consider the decision over a few weeks, and not make a decision immediately.

I am convinced that both the student and parent see the exam as the first goal, with peripheral music appreciation as the second. My philosophy is that this is fine (albeit unfortunate), but if that is the case, the student must be willing to put in the time and effort into achieving that goal.

My student is 13 or 14, just started high school this year. Actually, we were making good progress until about two months ago, when I noticed her progress deteriorating, and her increasingly being uncooperative. We redesigned a practice schedule around what time she said she had (45 minutes/day), and I tried to readjust my expectations on what could reasonably be accomplished on this reduced practice time. Practising is not on the top of every teenager's priority must-do list, so I never start the lesson with the presumption or expectation that the student has practised. But I find it extremely frustrating to teach a student that says flatly, "No." when I ask, "This fingering doesn't make much sense. Can we try this fingering?"

Janet, I think you bring up a good point. I have not yet had to teach students just starting puberty. I've only had students who are very young, or well into their mid-teens.

Certainly lots of differing opinions here, thanks and please feel free to add more comments.

April 6, 2007 at 11:05 PM · Gabriel Wong wrote: " I never start the lesson with the presumption or expectation that the student has practised."

That's a problem right there! Why not let the student know very clearly that you do indeed expect lesson preparation? One can be patient and helping the student to do better when the occasional lesson is unprepared. However the expectation of a prepared lesson is both reasonable and necessary for the student's development.

Gabriel Wong also wrote: "But I find it extremely frustrating to teach a student that says flatly, "No." when I ask, "This fingering doesn't make much sense. Can we try this fingering?"

Quelle chutzpah! Answering: "No." to "Can we try this fingering?" is definitely unacceptable behavior. It is disrespectful. Permitting this answer without correction is harmful to the student's development as a violinist, as a student and as a human being.

Gabriel Wong wrote, regarding his concern for the student and her parents prioritizing the exam over the study of the art: "My philosophy is that this is fine (albeit unfortunate), "

I beg to differ. It isn't fine (albeit unfortunate). Rather it is unfortunate! You have good values. I think you should take it upon yourself to impart them. You'll make the world a better place.

April 7, 2007 at 01:08 AM · Gabriel,

From reading your post, I didn't think you to be ignorant or arrogant in the least. Ron has a history of penning insults toward teachers. He is overly harsh and judgmental, considering the fact that he cannot know all the angles of the situation by the description you posted. He continually assumes that any student who does not want to practice is being abused by the teacher.

Personally, I think that's ridiculous. I don't like to bathe every day, even though I like being clean. Is this the shower's fault? No, I just don't want to make the effort some days. It's like that with anything that involves work. Sometimes, you just have to buckle down and do it, even if it means saying to yourself, "Just ten minutes, and then I can go outside and soak up some rays." (It is the time of year for spring fever, you know.)

In the big picture, I see how the tedious days pay off, when I can finally rip out some Saint Saens. That's when I really feel the joy from playing the violin. I feel it many times during scales or shifting exercises, but not every day. I tell my students the same.

If it appears that not even the best encouragement will pull them out of their funk, and their smoldering wick is about to be snuffed altogether, I'm fine with scrapping everything and fooling around on some easy duets and stuff for a while. But I never lie to them. Learning the violin is hard and involves lots of focused attention to detail. Anyone can do it, if they are willing to put the work into it.

Of course, I get the feeling that Ron probably thinks I'm a cold-hearted slave driver with a shoe-leather personality. You would only need to take one lesson from me to find out otherwise, but you won't know for sure until you do.

Unil then I remain faithfully (in Ron's eyes),

Vile Teacher Emily

April 7, 2007 at 03:40 AM · Gabriel,

I'm glad you mentioned how young the student was. I've had lots of students in just that age range that lost their drive and patience. It's a difficult age, especially because the music is getting harder and they really have to sit down and solve problem themselves. Then there are all the other distractions of that age, with grades, boys, sports, etc. I had assumed she was 18 and about to go to college. Maybe she can still stay in the game until she matures a little more. I'm continually emphasizing to students like this that they have to take one small problem at a time. That often seems to be what frustrates them--they just can't whip a passage in shape the day before their lesson like they could when the music was easier.

Whatever happens, try to keep your patience as well. That might be harder...


April 7, 2007 at 04:45 PM · It seems you have a "teaching with love and logic" issue on your hands. I've had to deal with this a few times, and this is how I've handled it. For the sake of discussion, let's call my student "Judy."

"Judy, before we start the lesson today, I'd like to be completely honest with you about your progress so you'll be able to make the best decision about your future--the one that will make you happiest. I can't make this decision for you, but I have confidence you'll make the right choice, whatever it is. So, here's the issue. I know from personal experience that this conservatory exam is going to ask more of you than you're ready for. It just doesn't look to me like we'll be ready in time. Now, that doesn't mean you can't give it your best shot and see what happens, but I don't want you to have unrealistic expectations. I want you to know what you're in for, so you can make an intelligent choice. At this point, the outcome of your test will not be good because you're not prepared. I see a few different options. You can back out of the exam and we can plan this for next year. You can keep going, practicing as much as you possibly can and hope for the best. Or, we can continue down the current path and you can take the exam, knowing you're not prepared. Having to make this choice is an excellent opportunity for you--far more valuable than the conservatory exam. By having the opportunity to make a tough decision like this one, you join the countless other great violin players who've faced similar problems. Any choice you make will be a good one because now that you know the facts, you'll be prepared to make a choice and take responsibility. Whatever you decide, I will give you my 100% support, and I'll help you as much as I possibly can. Any of these choices will help you learn valuable information you can't learn any other way. Actually, you might be able to think of other options I haven't. What do you think? What can I do? What do you want to do?"

I don't know if that's helpful, but that's the painfully honest way I've dealt with this in the past. Normally I get tears and happiness once we can be real. I hope the students I've "gone the distance" with have learned that I'm willing to stick it out with them through joy and sorrow. I DO think this is an invaluable learning opportunity for this young girl. The true test is NOT the conservatory exam.

April 7, 2007 at 04:54 AM · I'm a parent, and not a teacher ...

... but 13-14 is a REALLY tough age for a girl. I'm the parent of a teenager (now about to turn 15), and I can tell you - it's been interesting! It might just be a matter of getting through a certain stage of puberty.

Please do involve the parents. As a parent, I would want to know what's going on.

April 7, 2007 at 05:41 AM · Gabriel,

Being a 13 year old girl once (I like to think that it was not all that long ago...) with a "career path" in music hoped for by my parents at the time, I can understand the motivation dropping off. Hormones. At that age for a young woman all sorts of things begin to change physically and mentally very quickly. Future consequences for current decisions (or lack of)don't really enter the picture unless someone can put it into terms that she can relate to as a teenage girl going through puberty.

If she has otherwise respected you and has valued your musical guidance as a teacher, you have an opportunity to help her through this time. Be frank with her on what the outcomes will be on her decisions about music/testings today without going into a "death by lecture" mode. As she is just now entering puberty, there will be some rocky times for awhile.

If there are other educators (not just music) that you know, it may be a good idea to talk with them about working with children at this age and stage in their lives. Many of my colleages with teenage children joke how they has suddenly became "stupid" once their children reached their teenage years, then became "smart" again when they reached 20 or so.

April 7, 2007 at 03:33 PM · Hello Emily:

1) True, I cannot know all the angles. Well stated.

2) Not true, that I assume "any student who does not want to practice is being abused by the teacher". To be fair: your assumption and your words.

3) True, I assert the teacher is more than a musician and task master: that of leader and mentor. In fact, a good teacher does not need to be a good musician, but it helps the gifted students.

4) True, not all students can be virtuosos. But even an average student can remain motivated.

5) Using puberty is just another cop out: part of the "don't blame me syndrome". If true, then certainly I wonder, how other students got past puberty and rose to stardom? In fact, some even enjoyed stardom during puberty. How can this be possible under the "puberty" theory? Puberty is precisely the time when mentorship is required.

6) Not true, that I consider you to be leather, even probably. Never stated by me, nor inferred. Your writings certainly indicate otherwise.

7) True, my words may be harsh at times. Influenced no doubt by the "harsh realities of life".

8) Not true, that I am by nature a harsh person, as you imply.

9) True, people need personal interaction to see our natures better. So, I would look forward to having a lesson with you some day, with much thanks.

10) There are some very good suggestions in this thread made by yourself and others.


April 8, 2007 at 12:16 AM · Ron, from a student perspective, what would your suggestion be?

It's one thing to criticize, another to help solve the problem.

April 8, 2007 at 01:14 AM · Have you thought about a combined approach--tell the student and parents the deal, and let her fail. I've even 'made' myself do it just for the experience. I know that sounds cold, but for some it works.

April 8, 2007 at 11:13 AM · there are 3 parties involved here in this partnership. the teacher, the student and the parents. a very challenging goal has been set...challenging means there is a measurable odds for win/loss. when everyone in the first place evaluates the acceptance of this goal, one key element that every party should be clearly aware if what to do by the time when the test comes the student is not ready.

if i were the teacher, at the start, i would have proferred my position: if you are ready by then, we go forward. if not, we do not go forward. and because i am the teacher, i prefer it to be my call, meaning i will be responsible for making judgement on that call.

if that discussion has not been placed then, do it now. call the parents (their ideas, right?) and tell them the situation. let them share the worry. ask them for feedback, that is, what to do when your kid is not ready. let them speak first, then tell them your feeling.

on the other hand, i will be blunt:) is this teacher a good fit for this student? i don't know. if i were a teacher and the student takes my suggestion, in fact, any suggestion, with any hint of disrespect, goodbye! if a teenager on hormones is not an excuse for anything. you go to a teacher with respect.

get a cane, man!

April 8, 2007 at 05:34 PM · There's a lot of suggestions for talking to the parents but very few suggestions of better communication between student and teacher.First and formost the teaching relationship is with the student and if there is a problem one should try to resolve it with the person who is actually taking lessons.Those of you who are belittling the onset of puberty and peer group pressure have obviously had very little experience with children of that age.Its not just a question of hormones.However overcoming this phase in a successful way is just another interesting aspect of teaching and if the students enthusiasm can be harnassed in the right way it is the moment that they change from child violin player to musician and can be very exciting.

April 9, 2007 at 12:47 AM · Hi,

In the past, I have "cracked the whip" at some of my teenage male students who thrive on that kind of learning stimulus. However, I don't think this is appropriate with this particular student, and wouldn't produce a good result anyway. As you have probably realized by now, I am not that experienced with this age group (tweeners girls).

I have been reluctant to involve the parents so far, because I can totally foresee the following:

1) Teacher tells parent that student is a bit behind schedule, and requires better practising;

2) Parent, not knowing what better practising means, equates better practising with more practising;

3) Parent forces student to practice more, but not better, since only the student knows what is "better."

4) Relationship between student, teacher, and parent further sours, and worse still, no progress has been made.

I am accountable to both student and parent. Ideally, I would the student to take responsibility of their own progress. But, I simply cannot have the student fail the exam, and have the parent be shocked afterwards, because I didn't notify them ahead of time. That's not fair to the parent, either.

The dilemma: at what point do you involve the parent?

To date, I have had the luxury of selecting only students I feel I can work with (talent not required, only work ethic). However, I don't feel it's right to "fire" the student at the first sight of uncooperation - that's a cop-out, no?

Right now, I'm leaning towards explaining to the student my thoughts on their progress, and their available options. We (teacher + student) will then review the situation in 2 weeks, and if it's still unsatisfactory, I will involve the parent.

April 9, 2007 at 12:03 PM · it all comes down to your leadership style and skill. at the end of the day, you end up choosing something you are comfortable with. whether it is the right approach--to leave the parents out for now---is yet to be seen. if the student makes it, it is a non-issue. if the student fails, fingers will start pointing: my kid or the teacher?

if the parents ask: when did you first get the feeling that the kid may fail, can you provide a truthful answer and defend your action of not getting them notified immediately?

you may end up single-handedly take all the blame when in fact it should be and could have been the student's issue.

my wife is a successful professional that deals with people's life and death on a minute to minute basis, 24/7/4/12/365. once i asked her if there is something that guides her in tough decision makings, she said:

the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

you think that over and may want to share that with your student and ask her to interpret it.


April 9, 2007 at 02:11 PM · Gabriel:

To answer your question, please read all responses in this post. I see no need to repeat them. Mr Ku would seem to be cognizant of what I am trying to tell you by my note and quote. Leadership.

As others (notably Emily) consider me to be overly harsh (but others might say overly frank), I will refrain from further comment. Perhaps Mr Ku and others can at least highlight what you need to know.

good luck!

April 9, 2007 at 02:24 PM · "This situation starting deteriorating after the insistance of the parent to do a Grade 8 RCM conservatory exam. At the time, I outlined the enormous list of things that would be tested, and I explained that the added pressure in many cases could overwhelm a student with stress. I told them to think consider the decision over a few weeks, and not make a decision immediately."

Hi there,

I really feel for you in this`situation. The fact that you are so dedicated and concernd shows that you are taking your job seriously as a teacher, that is to be commended. The above information from you stood out to me and could possibly be the problem. If I read this correctly it says that the parents insisted she take the exam? Am I correct that this was not your suggestion? Perhaps the problem began there. Did the student want to take the exam? Had they not suggested it would you have recommended that she take it?

April 9, 2007 at 03:42 PM · ron, on this board or at least with me in life in general, if i open myself up for or to provide advice or suggestion, i want it harsh and frank:) may be you feel the same way (easier for you since it is not easy to come over to china to firebomb your bike:)

whether i or others take the advice into plan and action is another story, but the logic and the maturity of the logic should rule.

without taking a stand, the teacher may find this situation quickly get out of hand. or more out of hand. if it does not, everyone lucks out.

could it be the case where the parents are pushing the kid very hard at home and the teacher is pushing the kid very hard during lesson and the kid simply feels overwhelmed and is at a breaking point? dunno, but talking about feeling cornered and hopeless.

could it be the case where the parents have long realized that it is a long shot to pass the test but try it anyway? dunno.

could it be the case where the parents think the kid is doing GRRRRREAT! and expect to pass the test with flying colors? dunno, but there are nutty ones out there:)

or other situations that we simply dunno. so we make up our mind and invade iraq. scratch that.

as a parent, i feel quite strongly to not to allow this progress to a point where the parents, the kid and the teacher have to second guess each other.

lets play a game of guessing the word of choice here:

11 letters. (no, leadership is 10 letters:)

April 9, 2007 at 05:28 PM · 1. Parent should learn to let go of the reins. Girls at this age are asserting their autonomy.

2. Making choices and taking responsibility for them is part of the growing up process. It's important! Certainly one of the benefits of studying music is learning how to make choices (choices that are very minor compared to the life-altering choices which face her in the future--give them a chance to screw up when the stakes aren't as high I say . . . )

3. The best thing you can do for your student, her parent and yourself is to facilitate the student's own choice making capacity.

I could be wrong, but it seems to me the girl's reticence about violin is being brought on by a lack of freedom. At some point, kids will rebel when they're being forced (or they feel they are). The more you can do to put this dillemma back in your student's lap, the better. As long as she knows the facts, she'll make an intelligent decision (not necessarily the right one), and she'll be happy because SHE'S the one who made the choice. As long as she feels like she's being prevented from carving her own destiny, she'll withdraw or rebel.

Good Luck, Amigo. My prayers are with you. Tough one. I think I'd probably try to convince the parents that whether or not she does or doesn't take the exam won't make an iota worth of difference to her progress in the long run--but her ability to start taking responsibility for her own learning certainly IS a BIG DEAL. Just my impressions, such as they are.

April 9, 2007 at 07:35 PM · It sounds to me as if making this student go through with the exam "no matter what" will turn her off violin altogether. What are the consequences of withdrawing?

Can she make a decision to do it next year when she is better prepared? This could be a soul-searching year for her to decide how serious of a commitment she wants to make.

April 11, 2007 at 08:07 AM · Alex-

I may be giving you the impression that I'm lax or indecisive with my students. I want to assure you that's not the case with any of my other students. I was brought up in a very disciplined setting, and thus, I, too, only accept students who respond well to criticism.

The student in question was that diligent type, until recently. I felt something changed. The interaction and dynamics FELT different. Now, in the past, I feel I have dealt satisfactorily with teenagers acting out on occasion. But guiding girls through puberty is something that is completely foreign to me, because I really am not the touchy-feely type. Of course, this is a sweeping generalization, but let's be honest, there is something inherently different between the two sexes, especially at that age.

Terri - Based on last year's work ethic, my student would've done OK on the exam. I reluctantly agreed because I wasn't sure how'd she respond to the the pressure. But both student and parent said yes, they can handle the pressure (even though it was parent's idea), so who am I to say no?

Karen - you ask an interesting question. A month ago, the possibility of delaying the exam to August was discussed. The family is going on a holiday for 2-3 weeks in July, with no room to budge. As you probably agree, the student simply cannot take the exam with 2 week's practice after being on holiday for 3 weeks.

I harbour no illusions about what happens next if the exam does not happen as scheduled. With a more complicated social life, more schoolwork, and a waning interest, I simply do not see how next year could possibly be better. Even if parent/student doesn't mention it, I would be very inclined to evaluate the situation for my own benefit.

The lesson is later this week. We shall see soon how this all pans out.



April 11, 2007 at 11:04 AM · gabriel, i think of all things, this line from you is the most concerning on many levels:

.....But I find it extremely frustrating to teach a student that says flatly, "No." when I ask, "This fingering doesn't make much sense. Can we try this fingering?"

i hope things work out for both of you soon and at least from your end i trust you will exercise the best judgement possible.

here is a little comical relief for the little monster in each of us:

April 11, 2007 at 11:20 AM · And check out the Riverdancing violinist by the same crew. Ahh, I love soft virato hands.

April 11, 2007 at 12:02 PM · >As I see it you may be a good task master, but you have failed as a leader. You have failed to mentor your student. Congrats. Now you know your failings as a mentor are transferred to your student. Instead of building a person with confidence, you have contributed to lost self-esteem. What made you think you were a qualified teacher anyway? Ignorance or arrogance? Pressure from parents? Truly, I hate to read stories how some "teacher" has ruined a student's interest.

I was wondering why no one had leapt in to counter this comically inflammatory reply, but then Emily's post explained what I didn't know. Thank you, Emily. Best news of all is that Mr. Gorthuls has declared that he would refrain from further comment on this issue.

Am appreciating others' more rational suggestions and comments. Good luck, Gabriel!

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