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jeremy c

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Originally posted by DigiVoices:

How about this, for you teachers out there that give bass lessons, do you approach your lessons the same way with every student?

Absolutely not. I change with every student; I even change for the same student as they grow up.

 

Now, I do use a series of method books that don't change, and my plans don't change much...I kinda try to stay on the same road.

 

But I gauge each student by their response to me...level of nervousness, level of pride, level of self confidence, level of self-delusion. With that information, I tailor my balance between kindness and meanness, laxiety vs. strictness, accepting vs. demanding.

 

I also gauge each student's desires...what do they want to play, why do they want to play, when do they want to play. I give them some of what they want and a lot of what I know they should have.

 

I gauge the student's ablity to learn. Some students get there more naturally than others...but basically I alway set goal for each student that are just out of reach....

 

And then I expect them to reach those goals.

 

I've often thought than anyone who watched me teach privately for one week would come away convinced that I was schizophrenic; I'm many different people all at once.

 

But the most important thing my students all know...I care about them as people and as musicians. Their musicianship has nothing to do with our personal relationship. They all know I'm not satisfied with where they are now; I never will be. But I'm proud of them for what they've accomplished.

"Let's raise the level of this conversation" -- Jeremy Cohen, in the Picasso Thread.

 

Still spendin' that political capital far faster than I can earn it...stretched way out on a limb here and looking for a better interest rate.

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Originally posted by ClarkW:

9 times out of 10, the fault rests solely on the student and his/her uncaring parents for a lackluster education.

 

I beg to differ here. The fault rarely rests solely on one or two pieces of the educational puzzle. The causes are complex and confounded, particularly if we're focused on the students who are struggling the most in school.

 

If I'm a student, why should I care if I walk into a school building where the roof leaks, the paint on the walls is chipping, and the windows are broken? I may get tons of love and support from my teachers, but all the physical signs around me tell me that I'm not valued.

 

If I'm a parent these days, most likely both my spouse (if I have one) and I have to work long hours to make ends meet. Research shows that the vast majority of parents, regardless of race, ethnicity, or socio-economic backgrounds do care about their children's education, but they are constrained by time or knowledge about how they can best help their kids.

 

If I'm a teacher I come in every day and bust my butt in arguably the most challenging profession there is. However, some of my students arrive not having had breakfast or having witnessed a violent crime the evening before. Or I've got thirty 13 yr olds in my classroom!

 

I'm not trying to make excuses as much as point out that there is great depth to explanations we need for the difficulties we face as a society in terms of remedying ills in our educational system. Yes, the individuals who are directly involved (students, parents, teachers, administrators, counselors, etc.) all must take responsibility, but there are also places where more can be done (e.g., federal education policy? state education policy? government educational funding practices?). How about the inequities caused by public education funding that is based predominantly on local property taxes? Inner-city communities vote to tax themselves at higher rates than suburban communities and still generate far less $$$/student for their schools. Chew on that for a while. :eek:

 

There are also reasons to celebrate -- there are lots of teachers with the passion and commitment of DBB, many of us are parents who take an active role in our children's education, some of us are still young and conscientious students (Cowbell Allen comes to mind as a seemingly serious teenager who takes care with his posts here). Lots of kids do learn to write well and read thoughtfully and do difficult mathematics.

 

And for those of you struggling w/ spelling/grammar on these posts...don't hit "Add Reply" so quickly. Try the "Preview Post" and "Spell Check" options. The few extra moments you spend being self-critical of your own writing will make your posts better (and your writing off the board as well), earn you more respect, and you'll get higher quality responses to your posts.

 

Peace, y'all.

--Willie

 

PS: This is an issue I care a great deal about -- I have taught and been an administrator in a public high school, and I have been and continue to be involved as a researcher in a variety of educational research projects (currently one about literacy as a matter of fact!).

spreadluv

 

Fanboy? Why, yes! Nordstrand Pickups and Guitars.

Messiaen knew how to parlay the funk.

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I haven't been around this forum that long, but I bet some of you are starting to notice that I'm not only opinionated, but I'm also long-winded. Apologies. I'm not sure how I have managed to avoid major flaming (that rebuttal from Bill Leigh not-withstanding on the BP thread).

 

Teachers are underpaid for what they do. I'll agree. However, here are some issues:

 

Rate per an hour isn't that bad, when you compare to the average working joe. However, annual salary and potential earnings going forward are no so hot.

 

That fact known, potential college graduates have to make a decision: (1) go to college, complete a difficult program (some states require 5 years), and graduate to a public-school-teacher's job market that is tough to get into, and make $30,000 a year, or (2) complete some other degree (business, engineering, or such) and graduate to a job market that is foaming at the mouth to hire you and is willing to pay better starting salaries with a high-dollar earnings potentials in the long run.

 

I'm making a general statement here. Education programs, nowadays, seem to attract one of these types: people who have an intrinsic love of teaching and want a rewarding career, people who want their summers off, people who are not sure what they want to do, and rich kids. They don't seem to attract the same type of crowd that business, engineering, or pre-med, and maybe that's a good thing. Different character traits for different jobs.

 

However.

 

I am, based on grades and other scholastic performace, what is considered a "high-percentile" performer in higher education. I was a former education major. I changed. I looked at the education job market and I was stunned. I would have to work just as hard in college (harder, 5 year program) for what? The HOPE that I would get a job in a public school system in a NJ ghetto (Irvington or Trenton anyone?) that pays $30,000 a year, with a top earning dollar at $48,000 by the time I retire? I changed to a business major, graduated, had firms fighting to give me an offer, started at a nice salary, and I doubled my salary within 5 years. Yes, I've worked very hard. I would venture to say I have worked harder, based on the fact I have worked a minimum 2,500 billable hours for the past 5 years (yeah, that doesn't include vacation, training, administrative, and holidays). I would not argue that I've added more value to society, though. Economically, however, I have made more people more money in the short-term than any teacher has ever done. And that is what is valued in our society; short-term satisfaction.

 

So here we sit with this problem. Society doesn't value teachers as much as business graduates, because business graduates generate more earnings. Potential top-notch workers (the smart, hardworking, problem-solving, creative types) understand this, and when faced with a career choice, they flock to the higher paid careers. That leaves the teaching profession with what? Based on that Forbes article from a couple of years ago, the average business graduate creams the average education graduate on things like vocabulary, writing skills, math proficiency, and problem-solving. What the hell is wrong with that picture?

 

A vicious cycle. I'm pretty conservative about most things, but maybe a uniform, national education system would take some of the nonsense and unneeded beaucracy out of this silly, municipal or regional school system our country currently has.

 

Maury Spadoto

Hoboken, NJ

 

PS - bass content: I saw Juan Nelson play with Ben Harper (again) the other night. That guy can play. Gets a little freaky every so often, but who doesn't? Good performance, bad sound, worse venue (Mann Center in Philly).

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I'll address Maury and then Willie:

 

I dunno, Maury,

 

I know a lot of really smart teachers. In fact, most of the teachers I know are extremely creative and intelligent.

 

And I teach in an urban district, albeit at the most "suburban" school in the district. I would probably be more dissatisfied in one of our more "urban" schools.

 

The research indicates that teachers who are intelligent, but still go into teaching do so because they need a different reward than financial success. They have a need to nurture young minds. In my case, after 18 years in a management field, I became a teacher. Because I saw how bitter, unhappy, domineering my fellow managers were...how out of tune with human frailty and need. And I knew I needed to work with a younger crowd.

 

Teachers pay, while not much, will get you a nice home and a car. In fact, first year teachers in my district make over $36K. The real problem with pay is that you can't increase it by working harder...a real estate agent can double their income by hitting the streets...no way a teacher can double their income.

 

In Atlantic Monthly, this month, there is a summary of a dramatic proposal whereby teachers can make more money, perhaps by 50% by accepting giving up some rights (like the right of tenure, which keeps bad teachers in the profession.) The proposal would cost $16 Billion annually; business pays $50 billion to re-educate HS graduates.

 

Of course, the only problem is how do you measure a teacher's success? Most of you, by reading my posts, probably feel like I'm a good teacher; maybe you feel I deserve the extra bucks. But how is that measured? I drift off topic (could be called "off-task" by administrators) and always try to goad people into deeper thought (could be called "not teaching to plan.") Now perhaps you recognize the genius of what I do, because it's the best part of my teaching. However, an administrator..perhaps one not as intelligent as I am, perhaps under pressure to "stick to the program" might rate me as less than excellent.

 

I do what I do, raise up knowledge itself, because when knowledge draws the learner, the teachers job is finished...the student will take over and the teacher can guide.

 

By the way, I dunno if you can measure it by this, but I was pretty highly rated myself. When I took the ACT in 11th grade, I was rated in the 99th percentile in the state of Michigan; in the 97th percentile in the nation. With those rankings (especially nowadays) I could attend any college I chose. The State of Michigan awarded me a scholarship that would pay my way to any state university. I never accepted that scholarship; I came to Texas and started playing bass.

 

Willie:

 

"The fault rarely rests solely on one or two pieces of the puzzle." You are correct sir. There is an enormous puzzle here.

 

The temptation is to "solve this problem." I contend there is no "solution," because the problem is ill-defined.

 

If we lived in an utterly homogenous society, like virtually every other country in the world, our public education system would exactly meet the needs of it's citizens; citizens who will come out more or less with the same set of values and needs.

 

America, the most noble experiment, is also the most heterogenous society in history. Our citizens have radical different ideas of what knowlege is necessary or even good, about the value of school...even radically different ideas about our democracy itself.

 

And rather than define society, American schools reflect society. Good, bad, success, failure, war, peace...it's all in school.

 

The solution is not to ask schools to remake society into an "American norm." There isn't one.

 

But all attempts at reform seem to want to define just such a norm.

 

Now don't get me wrong. I don't want to cast aside standards...not at all. Anything but...

 

I have incredibly high standards for my violin players...much more than just "social playing."

 

I just can't see how a teacher, parent, administration or government force our young protagonist to learn to this standard.

 

So many of our young people, in the free exercise of democracy, simply choose not to learn. Yes, I know there are programs to combat this, and legislation and even religion, for Christ's sake. But if sam don wanna learn; if his peeps don't honor that, sam ain gonna learn. And it's useless to assign blame.

 

Because sam is exercising his rights as an American...his freedoms.

 

And, eventually, the marketplace will decide.

 

I want to teach my student to think. I want to teach them to think like me, because I believe that is the best way to move forward in this world. But, like it or not, American students will think for themselves...establish their own truths, write their own histories.

 

Now, here's the catch...I happen to believe that this is America's greatest strength. Of course, people will be left behind...even Jesus said "the poor will always be with you." We can write that larger: "the uninformed will always be with you."

 

Those who castigate school, like our young protagonist, will more than likely not be very successful in the world at large. They will not be CEO of Merrill/Lynch; they will not be Chief of Staff at St. Jude's. But they just might, in the exercise of their native intelligence, be CEO of another company...one they start. Tom Hix (owned a dumpster company; now owns the Texas Rangers and Dallas Stars), Sam Walton (ex-owner of Walmart), even the venerable Henry Ford; athletes and actors, singers and pastors; these kinda guys can sometimes give the world something special.

 

And I'm willing to let them. Go on sam. Be an artist...and the marketplace will decide.

"Let's raise the level of this conversation" -- Jeremy Cohen, in the Picasso Thread.

 

Still spendin' that political capital far faster than I can earn it...stretched way out on a limb here and looking for a better interest rate.

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Originally posted by davebrownbass:

Willie:

 

"The fault rarely rests solely on one or two pieces of the puzzle." You are correct sir. There is an enormous puzzle here.

 

The temptation is to "solve this problem." I contend there is no "solution," because the problem is ill-defined.

I agree that the problem is ill-defined. I would contend that one of the reasons for that is that it is multiple problems, and these problems vary from state to state, district to district, school to school...all the way down to student to student. In some ways, the best way to address such varying issues (perhaps a better term than "problems") is exemplified by your post about how you vary your approach student by student, and even within the experience of a single student, in order to try to get them to reach their potential and do their best. Where are the places at each level where a positive difference can be made?

 

Originally posted by davebrownbass:

If we lived in an utterly homogenous society, like virtually every other country in the world, our public education system would exactly meet the needs of it's citizens; citizens who will come out more or less with the same set of values and needs.

 

America, the most noble experiment, is also the most heterogenous society in history. Our citizens have radical different ideas of what knowlege is necessary or even good, about the value of school...even radically different ideas about our democracy itself.

 

And rather than define society, American schools reflect society. Good, bad, success, failure, war, peace...it's all in school.

 

The solution is not to ask schools to remake society into an "American norm." There isn't one.

 

But all attempts at reform seem to want to define just such a norm.

Aye, matey, there's the rub. We cherish our diversity, our heterogeneity, our differences, but it is often this same variation within our nation that creates difficulties and make it impossible to shape this "American norm." However, the unfortunate nature of the bigger picture is that the inequalities of educational outcomes are systematic -- by race, by class, by gender, by urbanicity/rurality (I'm a sociologist-in-training, one of my jobs is to make up words like that ;):D ), and so on. This is a problem, and is beyond choices that individuals make about their own or their own children's or their own students' educations. We deal with a push and pull between structural forces/social constraints and individual free will.

 

In other words, one of the things that our educational system mirrors in our heterogeneous society is the systematic inequality that exists. The structural constraints that perpetuate such inequality are not omnipotent, because there are plenty of examples of individuals who overcome the adversities society puts in their way. However, they are powerful.

 

Originally posted by davebrownbass:

Now don't get me wrong. I don't want to cast aside standards...not at all. Anything but...

 

I have incredibly high standards for my violin players...much more than just "social playing."

 

I just can't see how a teacher, parent, administration or government force our young protagonist to learn to this standard.

I'm going to stay out of wading into the whole "standards" thing. I could go into some depth here, but I'm just too tired. I basically agree with you, but just want to remind our non-educator readers that "standards" has to do with more than the "standardized" testing that is in favor in many states and with the current leaders in the national gov't.

 

Originally posted by davebrownbass:

So many of our young people, in the free exercise of democracy, simply choose not to learn. Yes, I know there are programs to combat this, and legislation and even religion, for Christ's sake. But if sam don wanna learn; if his peeps don't honor that, sam ain gonna learn. And it's useless to assign blame.

 

Because sam is exercising his rights as an American...his freedoms.

 

And, eventually, the marketplace will decide.

But the choices aren't entirely free. There are conditions our there that may make Sam (or Joe or Jim or Jane or Lakeisha or Juan or...) more or less likely to choose to work harder at his studies. A student is subject to the social contexts in which he/she lives -- contexts of family, neighborhood, peers, and school. The interactions he/she has in these different contexts as well as the opportunities offered in these contexts shape the choices that are available. Yes, the freedom of choice to learn is there, but it is conditioned by circumstances: the more consistent the positivity or negativity of experience and opportunity across all four contexts, the more likely one is to follow a positive or negative path. One can still choose to learn, but that choice may have been made easier or harder by things outside of the individual's control.

 

Originally posted by davebrownbass:

I want to teach my student to think. I want to teach them to think like me, because I believe that is the best way to move forward in this world. But, like it or not, American students will think for themselves...establish their own truths, write their own histories. .

Bravo.

 

Thank you, DBB, for continually reminding me of how much I appreciate having you participate in this forum. :wave:

spreadluv

 

Fanboy? Why, yes! Nordstrand Pickups and Guitars.

Messiaen knew how to parlay the funk.

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