Words of Wisdom

Wednesday’s Words of Wisdom

“Whatever method is used, our experience so far makes it clear that when we use a child’s natural desire to explore the new and unknown, and to gain some control over it, without trying to force him faster or further than he feels ready to go, both pupil and teacher have the most fun and make the most progress.”

John Holt, in How Children Learn

Tapping into the child’s natural desire to explore the new and unknown makes all the difference! ?

Food for thought: What are examples of ways we can do this as teachers? ?

Words of Wisdom

Wednesday Words of Wisdom

“Children’s need to make sense of the world and to be skillful in it is as deep and strong as their need for food or rest or sleep.”

John Holt, in How Children Learn

Thoughts for today: Young children have a strong drive to learn and make sense of the world around them! How can we as teachers harness this natural curiosity? How can we as adults maintain this youthful approach to the world around us?

Words of Wisdom

Wednesday’s Words of Wisdom

“Most of us are tactful enough with other adults not to point out their errors, but not many of us are ready to extend this courtesy (or any other courtesy, for that matter) to children.”

–John Holt (in How Children Learn)

When students make errors, how do YOU respond? Do you quickly and thoughtlessly point out errors, or do you skillfully allow time and opportunity for students to notice and correct errors themselves?

I’m sure we all find ourselves occasionally jumping in too quickly with the “right answer” in our teaching. (When I find myself doing it, it tends to be when I am feeling the pressure of the clock at the end of the lesson time!) In our best teaching, though, we play the “long game” and invest in helping our students become independent. We give students the appropriate amount of challenge (not too much, not too little) according to what they are ready for. We concoct skillful teaching questions that prompt students to learn to hear musical differences on their own. We give them skills and strategies that will increasingly allow them to learn for themselves. And we allow students TIME to think! This creates valuable learning opportunities for our students. Over time, students become increasingly independent and able to teach themselves.

As an aside: It’s not that we are to see errors as inherently “bad.” They aren’t. While we might not want mistakes hanging around for a long time, we must acknowledge they are a natural part of the learning process. To the skillful teacher or learner, errors are incredibly helpful information.

One final point: The above quote from John Holt reminds us of the importance of respecting children. Perhaps this seems obvious or comes easily to you — or perhaps not. I think it’s a good reminder for us all. We ALL — not just children — learn best when our basic needs are met and when we feel respected and valued. Respecting our students means using kindness, truly listening to them, giving age-appropriate choices and responsibilities, and more. (If you’re interested, you can read about what the Montessori approach has to say about respecting children here.)

Happy Wednesday, friends! Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Words of Wisdom

Wednesday’s Words of Wisdom

“Little children love the world. That is why they are so good at learning about it. For it is love, not tricks and techniques of thought, that lies at the heart of all true learning.”

–John Holt, in How Children Learn

Who can’t help but enjoy the privilege of seeing the world through a little one’s eyes? Watch a little child, and it’s plain to see how much they love the world. John Holt says that love is what makes them such good learners. I think we have much we can learn from children.

Words of Wisdom

Wednesday’s Words of Wisdom

“Teachers open the door, but you must enter by yourself.”

Chinese proverb

With whom does the responsibility for learning lie: the teacher, or the student?

The answer: probably both. The question presents a false dichotomy. (As my pastor growing up used to say: When you ask the wrong question, you get the wrong answer.)

The reality is that both parties share some responsibility in the process of education.

But teachers, let’s focus on ourselves for a moment: How can we open the door for our students? But further, what can we do to help empower our students to enter by themselves?

And now considering our teacher selves as the lifelong learners we are, and putting ourselves in the shoes of the students in our care: How can we help ourselves enter the doorways of learning?

Words of Wisdom

Wednesday’s Words of Wisdom

“Learning is not attained by chance. It must be sought for with ardor and attended to with diligence.”

Abigail Adams

Learning requires a little skin in the game. It’s not likely to happen just by chance. Learning comes around thanks to passion for the subject matter and a zeal for learning. Plus, a healthy amount of some good ole’ elbow grease.

How do you help YOUR students fully apply and invest themselves in learning?

General, Words of Wisdom

Wednesday’s Words of Wisdom

“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”

Benjamin Franklin

Learning is truly an investment. It’s a sacrifice made in the hope that we will reap the benefits of knowledge many times over.

There are so many different ways to spend our time, energy, and resources. But in my experience, investing in knowledge tends to pay off and prove worthwhile to my quality of life…especially when it’s something I’m deeply interested in!

Do you agree? What have YOU invested to learn recently?

General, Words of Wisdom

Wednesday’s Words of Wisdom

Every act of conscious learning requires the willingness to suffer an injury to one’s self esteem. That is why young children, before they are aware of their own self-importance, learn so easily.”

Muriel Spark

Learning is risky.

It means our self esteem might take a blow. It means our attempts might look inept. It means we might realize just how much we don’t know.

Young children don’t have this problem. They are accustomed to having to learn new things all the time. And as the quote points out, they have little awareness of their own self-importance. As a result, they generally aren’t shy about jumping in to try something new!

Maybe we can “stay young” and learn from kids. We can choose to not allow our pride to get hurt when we are in those awkward learning stages. Maybe we can try to recover quickly, laugh it off, and not allow those moments to get to us.

How can we help our students, as they grow up, stay open to risky learning experiences?

Because learning is worth the risk.

Words of Wisdom

Wednesday’s Words of Wisdom

“Take the attitude of a student: never be too big to ask questions, never know too much to learn something new.”

OG Mandino

This message is a GOOD ONE for us to keep in mind as we all become older and wiser. We are naturally good learners as children, but as we grow up sometimes we become less willing or less open to learning new things.

But it doesn’t have to be that way! We can assume the attitude of a student, no matter how old we are. We can be comfortable with the fact that we don’t know everything. We can be willing to ask questions. We can be EXCITED when there are opportunities to learn new things.

Moreover, we can MODEL this attitude for the young ones in our charge. Have your students witnessed your excitement to try out new piano literature with them? Have they seen you introduce new resources, teaching aids, or projects? Have they seen you perform in your studio recitals? Have they heard about your own practice strategies? Have they seen you embrace new technology? If so, that’s awesome!!

As teachers, let’s strive to not only be the best teachers we can be, but also the best learners we can be.