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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000029.txt from 2002/06

From: "Jay Webler" <>
Subj: Re: [kl] Teaching the 'students' of today
Date: Sat, 1 Jun 2002 18:51:55 -0400

One of my students was telling me about a Clarinet Teacher who comes
to the school and uses candy to try to keep the over talkers quiet. She
the candy to the unruly ones as an incentive to keep them quiet but does
not give it to the ones who are behaving and co-operating. Children
should be quiet because they are to be respectful of adults, and many times
are afraid to insist upon this for fear that someone will label it "negative
If any gets the candy it should be the ones who are behaving properly. But,
we live in a day when we reward the unruly and punish the producers. The
that I am referring to really gets upset at this kind of system. She
considers it insulting and

I can see candy for the grade schoolers but I am talking about kids who are
12 and 13 years
old. By that age they should understand how to behave in a group situation
without having
to be rewarded. In my mind, we make a horrendous mistake when we remove one
of reinforcement because we favor another. Not all "negative reinforcement"
is bad, and not
all "positive reinforcement" is productive. Young children are very adept
at manipulating adults,
and when they know that they have an adult teacher who doesn't understand
this, they will
constantly lead him/her around by the nose. That kind of teacher will spend
many hours trying
to appease these children and get absolutely no where.

I go back to my original point. We must remember that it is a teachers
responsibility to teach and
a students responsibility to learn. Any system which puts the student in
total control is doomed to fail.
I am convinced that children are no different today than 40 years ago,
except for the fact that they
have teachers that are afraid to stand up and be strong because of the
possibility of some kind of criticism
about being too "negative".

I heard the following on the radio one day in my car:

"The parents are afraid of the children: the teachers are afraid of the
parents; the principals are afraid
of the teachers; and the children are afraid of no one".

Having said all of that, most of the students I have are behaving very well.
They have decided, for
the most part to meet the challenges that I have put before them. My
favorite anecdote is about a
student that I have who is in the 5th grade. I have had her for almost 2
years now. One day,
I was in a very grumpy mood, and when I came out of the lesson I decided to
apologize to the
student and the parent because I was feeling so grumpy. The parent looked
and said, "Jay, she
loves you even when your grumpy." There may be many struggles in getting
new students to
come to an understanding of what their responsibilities and establishing a
good teacher student
relationship; but the results are well worth it

Jay Webler
Jay's Clarinet and Percussion

----- Original Message -----
From: "Forest E. Aten Jr." <>
Subject: Re: [kl] Teaching the 'students' of today

> Bill,
> I never said anything about using teaching methods that were "negative". I
> have a pretty good idea how you jump to the conclusion that a formal and
> structured music curriculum in the public school is "negative". Poor
> teachers.....
> While candy as a treat is OK, having to offer candy to get people to "show
> up" is a good indication that something is wrong with what's going on. I
> one, would not be using the services of "counselors and psychologists"
> offering candy.....I would take the candy though. Reminds me of one of E.
> Bombeck's sayings, "life is too short to stuff mushrooms, but I'll eat
> if someone else does".
> Forest
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "William Wright" <>
> To: <>
> Sent: Saturday, June 01, 2002 11:31 AM
> Subject: Re: [kl] Teaching the 'students' of today
> <><> Forest Aten wrote:
> students, parents and administrators want public school music education
> to be entertaining [snip] Many kids (and their parents) enter into
> band thinking that they are going to be entertained (fun, fun, fun).
> When they find out that it involves work [....]
> Without disputing anything that you have posted.....
> Teachers and institutions should remember that all people --- regardless
> of age or the topic --- learn more and retain it longer when they're
> enjoying themselves. Negative reinforcement can be effective, but
> positive reinforcement applied in equal intensity always wins.


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