An alternate for the terms "Student" and "Teacher"
I get frustrated with the way both young musicians as well as their instructors and programs all use school based language. My frustration is that the instrument gets placed in the part of their brain labeled: "School." As a result, school holidays, vacations, summers, are seen as times not to pick up the instrument or come for skill training.
This morning I thought that a return to the language of the Guilds could break the link between school and instrument. A young musician starts out an apprentice and as skills increase they become fellows, then journey-women and eventually masters of the craft with Grand Master reserved for the top professionals and pedagogues. (Ok, it also sounds Masonic but they borrowed the terminology from the guild system.)
I doubt that anyone will agree with me but I do think it is time to re-think the process by which the skills are transmitted from generation to generation and we understand that playing an instrument is a life skill, not simply a subject that you study.
Your basic premise seems to be that students will associate practicing and learning with something unpleasant--school--simply because of the labels.
Pupil and instructor. Boom.
I have a coach. She has whatever she wants to call me - which is probably student because some of them are younger than 10 and it gets too complicated.
Since I am called "professor" by my students, and since I believe my violin teacher is someone worthy of just as much respect as I am (probably more if we're being honest), I often refer to him as "my violin professor." Remember in the Jack Benny episodes -- he called his violin teacher "Professor LeBlanc." Of course we don't live in the 1950s and my teacher and I are on a first-name basis. For that matter I am fine with my research students (the ones who work with me in the lab) calling me Paul. My parents chose that name for me, and I like it.
Names, titles, who cares if the relationship is to the benefit of both parties? As far as I am concerned, you can call yourself Yoda, but it is useless if your students are not progressing.
I almost think George is implying that the power relationship should be equalized--the student is on the same level as the teacher, with neither in a position of superiority.
I like the idea in theory, but the reality is that this change would only positively affect adult learners, not children. Most kids' issues don't stem from the idea that their violin teacher is like their school teachers, but rather would prefer not to work so hard in one subject. The ones with good attitudes tend to succeed, regardless of what they call me. And I'm pretty clear with all of my students that all I care about is their progress, not whether or not they refer to me by a formal title.
The guild system was of course for professionals. For people who learn a trade to make a living. The majority of violin "students" are never going to live by playing violin; they will be amateur musicians or--more often than desirable--no musicians at all.
How about “cathode” and “anode”? Energy flows from one to the other.
“Intern” when you can’t play without constant supervision, “resident” when you can play some easy pieces in your sleep, and you actually do. “Fellow” when you can play independently with your mentor’s nuanced advice. Then go hang out your shingle.
Part of my formal education is graduate degrees in human learning. Not teaching. Not how to teach. I spent years learning how people learn. Probably as many years as most musicians at any level invested in learning their music skills. I learned to create environments conducive to learning. When I worked in classrooms the learners were learners. Learning was what what they were expected to do. I told the learners I was not a teacher. I was a facilitator of learners. Show me what you have, I'll figure a way you can learn whatever you need to demonstrate to pass. My classes were loaded with learning difficulties, social skill difficulties, criminal gang colors, mental retardation, and the gifted who would pass the state tests no matter what so they constantly misbehaved in other classes overseen by "teachers". No violinists there.
I respectfully do disagree with the idea that students don't practise because of the terminology they use. It's more likely laziness or just not needing to.
Though it's not really violin related,but i liked the post, Ken! Thank you for sharing the idea!
The Greeks, the prime teachers in the classical Roman world, had words for everything, including words for “pupil” and “teacher”, several in fact, depending on the context.
Those that can, do. Those that can't, teach. Those that can't, teach gym. Those that can't teach gym administrate. Those that can't do, teach, teach gym, or administrate are students.
Scott, "... bureaucracy devoted to churning out new standards, buzz words, and acronyms to be shoved down the throats of teacher and student alike ..."
I see George Wells' point about the ideas and feelings that get attached to anything associated with "school," including "teacher" and student," in children's minds. A lot of the discipline we subject kids to in school is not really for their benefit--sitting for hours quietly at a desk, not being allowed to talk, to go out of the room, or really to move very much, unless given explicit permission, etc. And then we give them busy work to occupy them. It's discipline in the service of managing a large group efficiently, not discipline so they become more proficient in math, science, and reading. On some level, kids know that sitting still for seven hours doesn't help them achieve more academically. Please note: I am not blaming classroom teachers--they are often doing their best to teach in the circumstances, we, as a society, expect them to manage.
As a corollary to this topic, I would like to see something universally recognized to strive for other than which “book” you are on. It always means the Suzuki series and not everyone uses that violin method. I know the OP does not use it. Like the martial arts with their belt colors indicating increasing levels of progress, there needs to be something here in the USA for young “students” to aspire towards. That will keep young students motivated - shoulder rest colors anyone?
"it is time to re-think the process by which the skills are transmitted from generation to generation"
Scott wrote: "Those that can, do. Those that can't, teach" That is such a put-down of teachers. Let me clarify: you are basically saying that teachers are all failed performers.
What's the goal? What does anyone who plays the violin want to eventually become?
Definitely Sanders (although I would add a blending of Beethoven's and your voice) - but how many teachers actually teach like that??
A teacher is someone special. It is a very fine word. Students and pupils are those who want to learn. To me the terms are fine.
"Scott wrote: "Those that can, do. Those that can't, teach" That is such a put-down of teachers. Let me clarify: you are basically saying that teachers are all failed performers"
It's an old quip Elise. It's George Bernard Shaw. The joke has been extended to “He who can does; he who cannot, teaches. He who cannot teach, teaches PE”
You are right Andrew but the actual 'out' is that 'He who can teache, teaches (in other words if you are a great teacher you teach). But you know that that is an exit by logic not by intent and generally - including Shaw himself - the intent is my interpretation.
Yes, you are right, but I suppose the context matters. Shaw wrote in "interesting times" when much doing needed to be done and Nietzsche had philosophised with a hammer, or so he thought, and Marx had said something similar about the need to change history, not record it, I forget the detail.
"Student, Teacher", the words are simple and functionally valid. What can get distorted is that the teacher forgets which way the money is flowing, that he is also an employee, servant of the parents. Wicked idea; Sometimes I wonder if the original old Univ. of Paris had the right idea. The students owned, controlled the school, and hired the teachers.
Mr. Cole's point is more valid than parents want to know. Toss his first paragraph and the rest of the post are things that need to be said louder and more often for the benefit of our learners.
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