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- March 30, 2013 at 10:21 am #413861
Rachel MarshParticipantI went to a session at the national conference in Dallas on shifting the way we teach to better meet the needs of today’s youth. The presenter was very good and she had many great ideas and seems to be doing a lot of things that really work for her. In addition, it appeared that she has a good balance of “work hard, play hard”. That being said, she did say something at the end of her talk hit me the wrong way and I would love to get some other educators insight. The presenter says that she no longer thinks of herself as being in the education field, but rather in the customer service field with an emphasis in education. I am first year teacher who has had a very rough year connecting with and creating community with my HS choir so I trying to figure out the best ways to approach my class. Aren’t we as teachers supposed to push students go beyond their experiences and see new things? Isn’t part of our job to teach the students not only music, but the discipline of hard work? Like I said, this year has been very rough. Last year the students had a teacher who did whatever they wanted and that is what they are used to. When I came in and expected MORE out of them, effort and an open mind, they shut down and they have not opened up. I have come to realize I probably won’t be able to gain the respect or the cooperation of these juniors and seniors but my jr high kids trust and respect me and I am praying that will not change as they go into HS. I don’t want to make the same mistakes next year that I did this year. How do I strike a balance between giving them what they want and what they need (which I realize doesn’t HAVE to be mutally exclusive)? What are some ways I can motivate them? We have not had ONE truly musical moment all year and there is no community within our choir. It is very sad and I can’t have a repeat next year. I am struggling to get through this one with them. Any thoughts would be helpful. Thanks!March 30, 2013 at 11:56 am #413868
Austen WilsonParticipantDo you know the book “Choral Charisma” by Tom Carter? I highly recommend it. He has some great team-building exercises in that book.March 30, 2013 at 2:22 pm #413878
Jason WhitsonParticipantI think you are going through what is generally very common for anyone in their first year. You are right in thinking that as you enter your 3rd/fourth year you will find your students more in tune and receptive to your teaching style and expectations.To your original question: Are we in customer service with an emphasis in education? I admit that statement alone feels wrong. I know the approach I need to take at my very rural high school with little to no real arts community before high school is very different than if I were at a friend’s very upscale private school in the suburbs of a good size city. And that his approach would be different than an alumni friend I have who is in a large city at an arts magnet school where students audition to get in.The approach is different….not neccesarily the content. I think in that sense maybe we are more in marketing than customer service. I will teach my students using good literature and solid pedagogy, but how I approach them with this and the reasons I use to convince them of it’s worth would certainly be different than my colleagues.I do think we need to be aware of our students needs and understand that one size does not fit all. One quality piece of music may be a good fit for my choir but not yours and vice versa. I suppose in that respect there is an amount of customer service that goes into our profession.Good luck!March 30, 2013 at 3:33 pm #413883
John HowellParticipantRachel and colleagues: We have too many state legislators here who DO think that our colleges (and by extension our school systems as well) ARE in fact businesses and should provide a product–education–to our customers. Of course by “education” they mean training, which must be practical and must lead to immediate and well-paying jobs in industry! And they are rather vague about who our “customers” really are: the students with whom we actually work and who we try to give both education AND training, or the parents who are actually paying the bills–or maybe even the industries and businesses who are expected to hire our students whom we are expected to have provided with what they need to do those jobs.This is the same kind of fuzzy, limited thinking that argues that government should be run like a business, even though government is NOT a business and has none of the characteristic of a business except for dealing with large sums of money. But this is the only way such people are capable of thinking because it’s the only models they know.Therefore a degree in engineering is acceptable, while a degree in liberal arts is not, even though what is REALLY important is not just to prepare students for todays jobs, but to prepare them to deal with the many changes that will take place as we move into tomorrow’s jobs! THAT is the difference (or one very important difference) between education and training.Those of us involved in the arts or liberal arts do our very best, of course, to provide BOTH education and training, and most colleges probably have some kind of core curriculum to ensure that at least PART of a student’s courses are designed to make them better, more broadly educated and more effective persons. My older daughter attended a Great Books school, where she received a first-class education but no training whatsoever! However, she was prepared to go to grad school and has completed a Ph.D in Math Education.So no, I would argue that we are NOT a business, and our purpose is NOT to serve our “customers” with what they think they want or need, but to prepare them for the real world as we see it. (Not that we are always right about that, of course, but that’s par for the course; how many brand new teachers feel that their college courses REALLY prepared them for that first day in front of a class?!!!) And it’s assumed rather reasonably that we should know a lot more about that than THEY do!All the best,John
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