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Pupils who can't take any criticism or corrections at all


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#16 Crock

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Posted 28 September 2019 - 15:38

I am increasingly getting this with undergraduates - students who only want to be praised and told how amazing they are, rather than receiving balanced feedback on their work and having errors corrected. Often it is the students who are getting low 2:2s or 3rds, believe that they are entitled to a 2:1 and won't engage with tuition at all. They then put in formal complaints because we "haven't given" them the tuition and support they needed to get a 2:1. Verbal abuse and threatening emails from students are becoming normal.

There is also a common misconception among students that 'reasonable adjustment' for disability should mean us adding marks and increasing their classification to 'compensate' them for their disability (which is often self-declared with no evidence being provided to the disability service when requested). At university level, reasonable adjustment for disability is things like voice recognition software, screen readers, dyslexia coaching or a mental health mentor; not grade increases. We have to assess all students against the same learning outcomes and assessment criteria regardless of circumstances and adding marks for students who claim to have disabilities would give them an unfair advantage over other students. If there are exceptional circumstances (e.g. hospitalisation, bereavement involving the loss of a close family member) and clear evidence has been provided, then the exam board have some limited discretion for adjustment when a student is on a grade boundary and the student has demonstrated an ability to work to a higher standard at that specific university level/year.

I agree - sadly, my experience too.


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#17 Banjogirl

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Posted 29 September 2019 - 14:12

I am increasingly getting this with undergraduates - students who only want to be praised and told how amazing they are, rather than receiving balanced feedback on their work and having errors corrected. Often it is the students who are getting low 2:2s or 3rds, believe that they are entitled to a 2:1 and won't engage with tuition at all. They then put in formal complaints because we "haven't given" them the tuition and support they needed to get a 2:1. Verbal abuse and threatening emails from students are becoming normal.

There is also a common misconception among students that 'reasonable adjustment' for disability should mean us adding marks and increasing their classification to 'compensate' them for their disability (which is often self-declared with no evidence being provided to the disability service when requested). At university level, reasonable adjustment for disability is things like voice recognition software, screen readers, dyslexia coaching or a mental health mentor; not grade increases. We have to assess all students against the same learning outcomes and assessment criteria regardless of circumstances and adding marks for students who claim to have disabilities would give them an unfair advantage over other students. If there are exceptional circumstances (e.g. hospitalisation, bereavement involving the loss of a close family member) and clear evidence has been provided, then the exam board have some limited discretion for adjustment when a student is on a grade boundary and the student has demonstrated an ability to work to a higher standard at that specific university level/year.

 

I have a friend who did a year of her degree at an American university and she said that it was complete normal for the US students to challenge every mark in tests and assignments. And this was in maths, where answers are pretty much right or wrong! She was appalled, but it was just the done thing there. It seems that this culture has made its way here now. Children are so over-praised at school that they don't always achieve a normal level of resilience, or accept that when things go wrong it might be their responsibility.


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#18 Aquarelle

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Posted 30 September 2019 - 14:12

I am always careful to praise for effort even if the result of the effort isn’t as good as I would have liked. I use words like “progressing”, “on the way,”  “getting better” and so on. I remember making a lot of effort, not succeeding and being grumbled at for what I hadn’t achieved rather than praised for what I had and encouraged to complete the task. So I am a bit watchful about this. But when you know your pupils  and if you are aware of even the smallest bit of progress you can usually strike a good balance between praise and letting the pupil know it isn’t as good as it will be with a bit more effort.

 

That said I do know about the child who won’t be corrected. This inability to stand correction can be simply a big lack of self confidence which is covered up by blustering. It can also have something to do with relationships within the family. I have a family of nine of whom I teach seven and one little girl who falls roughly in the middle is different from the others in several ways and she doesn’t like being corrected. She is not rude but she is very quick to defend herself. With her I use an overdose of the approach that “This bit was very good. Now that bit will need a bit more work before we have got it exactly right.”  I use “we” and not “you” so that she starts to feel we are on the same side. I have the feeling that she feels a bit of an outsider among her siblings and needs to find her feet in more ways than just musical ones.

 

I think the fact that these days children are loath to be corrected is often due, as has already been said, to too much praise for too little effort, by teachers and parents trying always to be accommodating, by giving children too much choice too soon and by adults failing to understand that they are responsible for helping children to grow, to develop their personalities and to prepare them for adult life. In past times children were dressed as miniature adults. Now they are given clothes in which they can move comfortably but often parents treat their minds as if they were the minds of adults in miniature – which they are not. They do not have the experience or the wider view that adults have – or should have. The adult population, terrified of being accused of being repressive, has walked out to a large extent on the idea of parental authority. Explanation and persuasion are good tools but they have their limits in some circumstances.

 

I meet this problem more often in class teaching than in my instrumental lessons. When corrected children often argue, turn to their neighbour and mutter or simply sulk. Those who argue are the ones who enjoy an audience and if you are not careful you can get into a shouting match with the whole class taking sides. This happened to me the Friday before last with a class of middle juniors. Having tried reasoning and got nowhere, when the offending child demanded “Why?” I replied “Because I am the teacher and I say so.” The class fell silent and we got on with the work in hand. A lot of educational psychologists would have me shot I dare say. But it worked.


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#19 EllieD

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Posted 01 October 2019 - 07:59

Praise probably depends on the student, and one of the skills of being a teacher is to work out who needs what. One of the reasons my sight reading has improved is because my teacher always points out the things I have got right ... I was being so self critical all I could hear and remember were the rubbish bits. But somebody who thought their sight reading was good when it was as bad as mine would need a different approach! But somebody who thinks they must be right and won't listen to a teacher … pretty hopeless situation.


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#20 Trifle

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Posted 07 October 2019 - 22:13

Thank you all for your replies. I really appreciate that and it is good to know I am not alone. It is definitely a modern thing - the "snowflake generation" - and my husband who teaches in schools also sees it. I was lucky enough to watch a colleague teaching this week and noticed they found a way of correcting without seeming as if they were criticising,  and that has inspired me to keep working on the way I word my criticism and looking for ways I can still teach properly without them feeling "got at" . 


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#21 The Great Sosso

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Posted 09 October 2019 - 10:47

I had a message from a parent last week, following her daughter's lesson with me.  Daughter came out of the lesson feeling like "everything was rubbish" (definitely not my words, but obviously somehow I inadvertently conveyed this message).

 

The truth is, as I told the Mum, the same bars that I have corrected week upon week are still not being played correctly.   How can I prepare her for her grade 2 this term, if she doesn't work on the areas of weakness?  And how can I point out the areas of weakness without saying that they are not good enough?  However, I will  find something to praise in the next lesson (and hopefully it will be the fact that the has improved the areas of weakness through good practising!).  I hate people leaving my lessons feeling bad about themselves and I think my own concern for her lack of progress in certain areas must have shown too much.

 

I'm having advanced lessons myself again, and I find that my teacher is very critical - but that's what I'm paying him for.  If he just sat there and told me I was playing everything brilliantly, I'd wonder what I was paying £70 per hour for.  I leave my lessons with him feeling that I have work to do, and excited about cracking on with it - it would be nice if my students felt the same.  But perhaps children don't have the same viewpoint as adults on self-improvement.

 

 

TGS X


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#22 Banjogirl

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Posted 09 October 2019 - 11:29

I had a message from a parent last week, following her daughter's lesson with me.  Daughter came out of the lesson feeling like "everything was rubbish" (definitely not my words, but obviously somehow I inadvertently conveyed this message).


 

 

TGS X

 

This is often an attempt to move responsibility onto another person. She knows she hadn't practised so she's making it about you being a bad teacher for making her feel rubbish, rather than her for not practising. My son does this all the time, in fact it's very common among today's teenagers. It doesn't help that at primary school they're told that the slightest achievement is amazing and suprer, and even when their work's not up to scratch they are still praised. It's really unhelpful. At least when I tell someone that what they did was good then they know that I meanit!


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#23 jenny

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Posted 09 October 2019 - 11:54

I have been teaching a 13 year old pupil for a couple of years and his progress has been so very slow that I have contacted his parents several times to make sure that he really does want to continue with lessons. They have always said that he definitely did, so I have tried hard to motivate him and to encourage him to practise more. Things rather came to a head last week, when I contacted them yet again and was told that they had talked to him and he had said that he although he likes playing the piano, he finds the pieces boring and that they play much 'cooler' music at school. This resulted in a long texted conversation with the parents (who are lovely and very supportive) while I tried to find out what he has been playing at school (this is GCSE music) and how I could try to find pieces that would interest him more. I looked through my music cupboard and found a Famous and Fun book that included pieces like the Star Wars theme, the James Bond theme and two Harry Potter pieces (he's a big HP fan). I showed it to him at last week's lesson and he was really delighted, so we started work on the first part of the James Bond theme. I made sure that he knew how to start it (his biggest weakness is giving up if he can't/can't be bothered to work out hand positions) and that he knew what happened on the first page. I felt very pleased that I'd found something he was excited about and have been looking forward to hearing what he'd done. He came last night for his lesson and couldn't even play the opening section on the right notes or with the right rhythm. I was so disappointed!

This has turned into a bit of a rant - sorry! - but I try so hard with all my pupils and I really thought we'd turned a corner.   


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#24 ten left thumbs

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Posted 09 October 2019 - 18:54

I actually think once the teacher-student relationship is set (which takes about 1 or 2 lessons), that's it, the student will not accept any difference of tone. If you start out being matter-of-fact about what you want and whether or not you are getting it, then the student either accepts this or decides they don't want to learn. The same student might accept critique from one teacher (in one subject) but not at all from another. Why? It's what they're used to. And they don't like to change. 


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#25 jpiano

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Posted 09 October 2019 - 21:44

I have been teaching a 13 year old pupil for a couple of years and his progress has been so very slow that I have contacted his parents several times to make sure that he really does want to continue with lessons. They have always said that he definitely did, so I have tried hard to motivate him and to encourage him to practise more. Things rather came to a head last week, when I contacted them yet again and was told that they had talked to him and he had said that he although he likes playing the piano, he finds the pieces boring and that they play much 'cooler' music at school. This resulted in a long texted conversation with the parents (who are lovely and very supportive) while I tried to find out what he has been playing at school (this is GCSE music) and how I could try to find pieces that would interest him more. I looked through my music cupboard and found a Famous and Fun book that included pieces like the Star Wars theme, the James Bond theme and two Harry Potter pieces (he's a big HP fan). I showed it to him at last week's lesson and he was really delighted, so we started work on the first part of the James Bond theme. I made sure that he knew how to start it (his biggest weakness is giving up if he can't/can't be bothered to work out hand positions) and that he knew what happened on the first page. I felt very pleased that I'd found something he was excited about and have been looking forward to hearing what he'd done. He came last night for his lesson and couldn't even play the opening section on the right notes or with the right rhythm. I was so disappointed!

This has turned into a bit of a rant - sorry! - but I try so hard with all my pupils and I really thought we'd turned a corner.   

This kind of situation rings bells with me- it's fine, and fun, to include some tunes they know in learning, but I do find that a familiar downward pattern can emerge where a child first of all decides they only want to play things that are 'cool' and that they know-but when we do that, they find that the music takes as much, if not more, practice than the pieces they'd decided were boring and they disengage even further. Or they want to play music which doesn't work on solo piano. Or has explicit lyrics. Or all of those things. 

 

On the not wanting to take any criticism issue, I also think that it just doesn't help when the UK education system is so exam-driven and pupils are so used to being endlessly coached to the nth degree via tutoring or continual, extra revision sessions. Ofcourse I'm not saying that pupils shouldn't be helped to reach their full potential or that we want them to fail or do less well then they could, but having no experience of scoring other than top grades all the time, is no preparation for academic or working life, and it doesn't develop the determination needed to overcome difficulties, or to take constructive criticism in a positive way.


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#26 ten left thumbs

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Posted 10 October 2019 - 08:25

I have been teaching a 13 year old pupil for a couple of years ... I felt very pleased that I'd found something he was excited about and have been looking forward to hearing what he'd done. He came last night for his lesson and couldn't even play the opening section on the right notes or with the right rhythm. I was so disappointed!

This has turned into a bit of a rant - sorry! - but I try so hard with all my pupils and I really thought we'd turned a corner.   

Yeah, but maybe it's really more like, he really can't be bothered focusing on anything. Applying himself. Actually noticing when it's wrong and when it's right. So piano lessons haven't been working well for a while. So he and/or the parents offload responsibility onto you, maybe it's not the right repertoire for him? Good on you, you found him repertoire he was happy with. But, he still won't apply himself...


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#27 violinlove

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Posted 10 October 2019 - 10:00

So he and/or the parents offload responsibility onto you, maybe it's not the right repertoire for him? Good on you, you found him repertoire he was happy with. But, he still won't apply himself...

 

 

Yes, I've had this a few times as well, unfortunately. In my experience, once they start wanting to play X, Y or Z instead of A, B and C which they apparently don't like, it's the beginning of the end. Little or no effort is put into X,Y or Z and no progress is made.

 

I've also found motivated pupils who practise A, B and C don't tend to moan on in lessons and to their parents about not liking the music and if they could play "cool" stuff instead of "boring" "old" stuff everything would be fine! No, my motivated pupils practise A, B and C but also find music online or in shops that they want to learn and try it themselves at home! It's a completely different mindset.


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#28 jenny

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Posted 10 October 2019 - 11:42

 

I have been teaching a 13 year old pupil for a couple of years ... I felt very pleased that I'd found something he was excited about and have been looking forward to hearing what he'd done. He came last night for his lesson and couldn't even play the opening section on the right notes or with the right rhythm. I was so disappointed!

This has turned into a bit of a rant - sorry! - but I try so hard with all my pupils and I really thought we'd turned a corner.   

Yeah, but maybe it's really more like, he really can't be bothered focusing on anything. Applying himself. Actually noticing when it's wrong and when it's right. So piano lessons haven't been working well for a while. So he and/or the parents offload responsibility onto you, maybe it's not the right repertoire for him? Good on you, you found him repertoire he was happy with. But, he still won't apply himself...

 

It certainly seems that way. He's a really nice, polite boy and has lovely, supportive parents. I also teach his younger brother, who has a completely different attitude (and a completely different set of problems!) and they have a little sister who wants to start lessons. Whenever I've talked to the parents about him, I've tried not to suggest that he maybe he's lazy, but I am starting to think that now. I made sure last week that he understood how to start the piece so that he wasn't sight reading it at home, but he either couldn't remember what we had done or he just didn't bother to put in the work. I feel quite uncomfortable about labeling him as lazy, but it's hard to understand why he can't manage on his own. He also plays violin and is apparently working at Grade 2 level, so note reading and understanding basic rhythms shouldn't be too much of a problem....  


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#29 LoneM

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Posted 10 October 2019 - 16:15

It would be interesting to talk to the violin teacher, wouldn't it!


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