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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000731.txt from 2004/10

From: Adam Michlin <>
Subj: Re: [kl] Appealing to the superficial
Date: Mon, 25 Oct 2004 08:56:32 -0400

At 12:41 PM 10/25/2004 +0200, you wrote:
>Mozart doesn't need "tricks". If students don't respond to his music,
>maybe it's not the right time, maybe it's not the right place. If they're
>going to come to Mozart it has to be on their terms; after all, it's their
>ears, their brain, their time. And if they *don't* ever come to Mozart,
>IT DOESN'T MATTER. It's their life.

Right. And it doesn't matter if they learn to read. It's their life. It
doesn't matter if they learn to write. It's their life. It doesn't matter
if they learn math. It's their life.

We're talking about students. Of course it matters! And, yet again, I only
advocate giving them a chance (I guess I didn't scream loud enough). Band
transcriptions being a reasonable example of such a chance.

>If students don't want to listen to Mozart, you can't make them. And if
>you *try* to make them listen, whether by tricks, or by incessantly
>playing the music, or whatever, you drive them further away because they
>associate it with the "stupid teacher" who is always thinking about
>himself and never about their own interests.

I must have missed where I suggested forcing them to listen Mozart? If you
mean that by playing Mozart in a classroom I am "forcing" them to listen,
then the logical extension of your argument is we shouldn't "force"
students to be in the classroom at all. Who needs educated citizens,
anyway? It doesn't matter, right?

>So by all means play Mozart to students. But if they don't seem
>interested, put on something else. Find something they *do* like.
>They'll respond better to a teacher who engages with them to provide
>musical experiences that *they* find interesting. And once they trust you
>as someone who understands what they are looking for in music, perhaps
>they might start to listen to you when you tell
>them why you like Mozart.

School just isn't about making sure everyone likes everything. It is about
giving them a chance and most of all teaching them.

Should the English teacher ask students to read Shakespeare and then switch
to Harry Potter if they "don't seem interested"? Or should they use
Shakespeare in one of its many popular forms to help the student better
transition to Shakespeare written word? Or should they just read what
Shakespeare wrote? This is not a black and white answer, but the goal
remains to same. Educating students is the goal, every teacher does it in a
different way.

If an English teacher told me he/she switched to Harry Potter because the
majority of his/her students were so borderline illiterate such that trying
to read Shakespeare was a
waste of time, I wouldn't argue! As long as the students were learning.

If an English teacher played a modern day movie version of Shakespeare to
help the students better understand the written word, I still wouldn't
argue. As long as the students were learning.

>Then again they might still not like it. But it doesn't matter. It's
>their life.

Being a teacher means realizing there are some things students will only
come to appreciate later in their life. Forest recently accused me of
dumbing what I teach down, I think I successfully defended myself against
his charges. What you suggest is truly dumbing down what is taught.


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