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Elissa Milne - Teaching v Learning


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#1 HelenVJ

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Posted 12 February 2012 - 11:05

I love everything that Elissa Milne writes on her web-site, but this, her latest, had me jumping in the air, doing a fist-pump, and shouting '[b]YES!!!![/b.' Well, almost.

Seriously, I couldn't agree more with her take on the exam culture in general, and specifically the one-size-fits-all approach of music exams. As the EPTA course outline points out, a syllabus isn't the same as a curriculum.

Hope this link works, anyhow

http://elissamilne.w...-lesson-part-i/
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#2 jenny

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Posted 12 February 2012 - 11:22

Thank you so much for this! My day just got brighter. smile.gif
I feel that some of my pupils' parents would be interested in reading it as it expresses how I feel about teaching. I'm considering sending them the link.
What do others think about this?
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#3 maggiemay

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Posted 12 February 2012 - 12:06

Excellent stuff. She lost me in the middle, where I would have liked her to expand a little on the ones who limit their learning, but yes, indeed, some very helpful thoughts. We should be encouraged not to feel anxious to 'get back on track' when we sidetrack into something unplanned.
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#4 Bagpuss

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Posted 12 February 2012 - 14:21

Crikey. How refreshing is that?!

The day "they" try to regulate instrumental teachers and tie us to the horror of "learning objectives" etc. is definitely the day I hang up my flute once and for all.

Good reading. Many thanks to the OP for sharing it with us.

Bx
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#5 gwyntdi-enw

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Posted 12 February 2012 - 14:30

Thank goodness for some common sense! The fact that teaching and learning are not the same thing should be much more widely understood.

I, like maggiemay, would love to understand more of the concept of those who "limit their learning". Is it a "deficiency" within those learners (both child and adult, in my experience) which makes them not open to learning, a logical reaction to an education system which has perhaps concentrated on teaching and not on learning, or something else entirely? Is anyone aware of any research in this area?
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#6 [email protected]

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Posted 12 February 2012 - 14:34

Thanks, I enjoyed reading that.

My old Latin teacher used to tell us that 'education' and 'educate' came from the Latin meaning 'to lead out' (ex duco) as opposed to 'instruction' and 'instruct' which comes from the Latin for 'to pile in'.

As such, teachers are supposed to 'educate' children, he claimed, and 'bring out' their natural learning abilities as opposed to 'instruct' children and simply cram them with facts.

I find this quite inspiring although I do have to admit that, just occasionally, I'd rather like to 'pile in' some facts to some of my pupils (a few key signatures and scales spring to mind . . . ).

.
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#7 Louise H

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Posted 12 February 2012 - 16:44

Thanks for sharing this - looks great after a quick read. Will read it properly later - haven't got very consistent internet for now.
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#8 Aquarelle

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Posted 12 February 2012 - 17:58

I was interested to read the article and agree up to a point. I think the instrumental lesson is one place where the child can benefit from a one to one relationship, where there will be time to follow up individual interests and to sort out difficulties in a way that cannot be done in a class situation. But I think we need to be a little careful, as with any thoughts about education, not to throw the baby out with the bath water. I think there should be time for listening to and looking at a pupil?s original compositions, there should be room for creativity and there should be time for investigating with the pupil any particular aspect ? like the scales Elissa Milne mentions - which has particularly caught their attention. But I am a little wary of getting too enthusiastic about this sort of thing, having lived through, in general education, the other side of the coin. At one time it was all ?creative writing? ? even to the point where in one school where I taught it was suggested that we should not correct spelling and grammar errors. It was also at one point all the rage to have ?learning by discovery? ? and it did take some of them an age to discover anything ? however many clues they were given!

I think it needs to be balanced. I think all teaching should be pupil centred and the function of the teacher is to create a balance between the pupil?s individuality and the subject or skills to be acquired. I think it is not only good practice, but vital to have a list of objectives, to have a plan for each student. I also think it is vital to know when to set this plan aside, when to be led by the student and when to take the lead.

This is an interesting point for me because at the beginning of each year I make a plan of action for each instrumental pupil and for each of my classes. But as the year progresses the plans are adapted and rethought and it is usually during the February holiday we have here that I look at the plans and see what I have done, what I have discarded and where the pupils have gone or have wanted to go. I?ve got one more week to work before I do that this year and it?s an exercise I always enjoy ? there are sometimes some surprises. I, as a teacher, definitely feel I need to create a framework within which to work and without which my teaching would become a series of unrelated topics with no carefully thought out progression. But I also need to be able to move outside that framework and to be flexible when I feel it right. That is the great plus of being a private teacher and not having any other authority breathing down your neck with a ready made and compulsory curriculum.

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#9 Tenor Viol

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Posted 12 February 2012 - 18:12

My old headmaster, sadly long deceased, was a double first from Oxford. His line to the parents of 1st formers was: "Your child is here to be educated, not to pass exams - there is a difference."
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#10 Hedgehog

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Posted 12 February 2012 - 18:37

QUOTE(Aquarelle @ Feb 12 2012, 05:58 PM) View Post

I was interested to read the article and agree up to a point. I think the instrumental lesson is one place where the child can benefit from a one to one relationship, where there will be time to follow up individual interests and to sort out difficulties in a way that cannot be done in a class situation. But I think we need to be a little careful, as with any thoughts about education, not to throw the baby out with the bath water. I think there should be time for listening to and looking at a pupil?s original compositions, there should be room for creativity and there should be time for investigating with the pupil any particular aspect ? like the scales Elissa Milne mentions - which has particularly caught their attention. But I am a little wary of getting too enthusiastic about this sort of thing, having lived through, in general education, the other side of the coin. At one time it was all ?creative writing? ? even to the point where in one school where I taught it was suggested that we should not correct spelling and grammar errors. It was also at one point all the rage to have ?learning by discovery? ? and it did take some of them an age to discover anything ? however many clues they were given!

I think it needs to be balanced. I think all teaching should be pupil centred and the function of the teacher is to create a balance between the pupil?s individuality and the subject or skills to be acquired. I think it is not only good practice, but vital to have a list of objectives, to have a plan for each student. I also think it is vital to know when to set this plan aside, when to be led by the student and when to take the lead.

This is an interesting point for me because at the beginning of each year I make a plan of action for each instrumental pupil and for each of my classes. But as the year progresses the plans are adapted and rethought and it is usually during the February holiday we have here that I look at the plans and see what I have done, what I have discarded and where the pupils have gone or have wanted to go. I?ve got one more week to work before I do that this year and it?s an exercise I always enjoy ? there are sometimes some surprises. I, as a teacher, definitely feel I need to create a framework within which to work and without which my teaching would become a series of unrelated topics with no carefully thought out progression. But I also need to be able to move outside that framework and to be flexible when I feel it right. That is the great plus of being a private teacher and not having any other authority breathing down your neck with a ready made and compulsory curriculum.


I do agree with Aquarelle. I feel there should be a balance between pupil-led exercises and teacher-led work so that pupil progresses but also enjoys the work and feels that his views count for something. I dislike the expectations from some quarters that pupils will undertake an exam on a yearly basis.

I have always thought that one of the challenges for instrumental teachers is to strike the balance between enjoyment and work for the pupil as it can be a voluntary activity in many cases( - and yes, I recognise that work can be enjoyable).

I wonder whether those pupils who limit their learning are those who are "put to" the instrument by their parents, or whether they have picked up the general idea from somewhere in the school curriculum where they are not expected to "know that" because it's not on "the syllabus".
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#11 sbhoa

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Posted 12 February 2012 - 19:32

QUOTE(Susie @ Feb 12 2012, 06:37 PM) View Post

I wonder whether those pupils who limit their learning are those who are "put to" the instrument by their parents, or whether they have picked up the general idea from somewhere in the school curriculum where they are not expected to "know that" because it's not on "the syllabus".

Or they want to play but didn't realise that it wouldn't be instant and don't really want to do it enough to be bothered with the learning part.....
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