Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Once I get started...

On the weekend I was told "To set the record straight, this is not a 'teaching method'. You cannot buy ten volumes of Suzuki books and become a 'Suzuki Teacher'."
While I couldn't agree more with this statement and have had to explain this to many parents in the past (usually parents criticising Suzuki because they'd not had a 'true' Suzuki teacher), the reason for making this statement bothers me a little.

In the last few years, the violin repertoire has undergone major revisions. There are many more photographic illustrations, exercises, technical preparations and instructions contained in the new books. So many more that it is difficult to understand the necessity of the apprenticeship model and hours of observation required in teacher training. I feel that the new books (which come packaged with a cd) make it easier for teachers to access the repertoire and teach suzuki method.

Shouldn't I be jumping up and down and yelping for joy? Hooray, give me the book, I'll work through it diligently with each student, they'll be ever-so-well prepared and my life will be easy. I won't need to innovate, to identify potential technical hurdles, or even demonstrate good posture - it's all RIGHT HERE IN THIS BOOK!

Wrong. I feel that these new books make it easier for teachers to access the repertoire and teach suzuki method while having little or no understanding of the philosophy.

I feel that including so many photographs will make teachers lazy about demonstration and perhaps make parents a little lazy too - I don't need to watch other children, learn how to hold the bow, integrate this information into my own nervous system -Here! It's right here in the book! Look at that! Do it like that! (I know, I'm so cynical. You try teaching for ten years and let me know how your idealism fares.)

And the exercises. Hm. The problem here is that not every child needs every point prepared. Some children need one skill presented fifty different ways. Some don't. Overteaching is the quickest and easiest way to kill a child's interest. They will have different standards of perfection and it's not our job to impose OUR standards upon them. Rather, we need to keep modelling what we feel to be desirable and accept that their opinion may be different - they may not yet be capable of reproducing information at that level.

What's my real beef? I guess I feel that many teachers are not passionate about what they do. Or that they have become limited to a box of ideas and won't venture beyond it. I find reading the work of other educationalists fascinating. The way that Steiner and Montessori link to kinesiology and BrainGym; Glenn Doman and John Holt; Reggio Emilia  (and here ) and Suzuki's preschool and elementary school and the obvious resemblance to Kumon....

Ask why teachers teach what they do, why they do, how they do. And if they don't know, finding out may re-inspire them.


Lora said...

I think you're right. The passion seems to be gone for so many teachers of all kinds

julochka said...

hmm, is there a suzuki method for riding a horse?

otin said...

I owned a Suzuki Intruder 750. It was a great motorcycle. I used the Harley way of riding it though! LMAO!

Madame DeFarge said...

I used to play the double bass and always wondered what it would have been like to have a Suzuki method for that.