Wednesday, August 31, 2011 job sucks because I care...

I have come to realize that teaching would be so much easier if I didn't actually care about my students. Being a bad teacher would be a cushy, cushy job. Great hours, summers and holidays off and comfortable pay (not great, but I eat well and I just bought an iPad)...not bad work if you can get it.

Caring about my job, though, makes it a much more intense gig. For example, I got home today at 5:09 and it was the earliest I had left school since the academic year started. Last year, I was at school before 7 a.m. every day until about November when I missed one. This year, I've been a little lazier and have given myself until 7:10 to be in my office. Admittedly, some of that time is spent doing non-school things like practicing, but the sentiment remains.

During class, though, some of my choices have made my job much more difficult. A big part of my philosophy as a teacher, and specifically a music teacher, is that I want to make myself obsolete. I want to give my students the tools needed to teach themselves. My ultimate goal is to hand out a piece of music, leave the room for an hour, and come back to find the students ready to perform. I want the empower them to solve their own problems, find their own solutions, and work independently. It may sound bad at first glance, but I want to help my students as little as possible. It would be much easier for both me and my students if I just answered their questions at face value, but I would rather them discover for themselves that G is on the second line of the Treble Clef, instead of having me tell them time and time again.

This has become a big problem for me in the classroom. Most of my students are really uncomfortable with independent thought and would much rather whine that "I don't know what these notes are!!" then use the resources they had been given to solve the problem for themselves. When I refuse to tell them the answer it creates a little bit of a conflict, but it's a battle that I feel very strongly about fighting.

But how much easier would my job be if I didn't insist on being stubborn about this? I would certainly make class go easier if I just told a kid the fingering for an F-Sharp. But is that what's best for that kid's long-term welfare? I don't think so, and I think whatever difficulties I am having now will be worth the struggle if I can successfully engage these kids' minds. Even if they ultimately quit band, hopefully they will have gained some thinking and problem-solving skills, and some intellectual independence.

I could rant about this subject for a long time, but I've got food to eat. There will definitely be another post on this topic, probably about some kids' disdain for reading and how it affects their odds for success in all areas of their life. Some big-time social commentary in that post, ladies and gentlemen. Stay tuned, Internet.


  1. No matter how they complain, kids respect a teacher who challenges them. Good for you! Jana

  2. i agree with you 100%

    teach musical independence, do not hold their hand and do everything for them


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