Saturday, 08 September 2012
The second in the 'E' series by Director of Music, George Bevan
The second E is Enthuse!!!
Once our pupil is engaged, nothing beats a jolly good enthuse! The very nature of engagement means that teacher and pupil have found a connection of some sort, and once this is in place, we are able to share with each other; shared energy, shared excitement, a shared love of music and the instrument which we are studying. This needs to be a two way thing, and when things are going well there can be an infectious anticipation for what the lesson might hold, for both of us.
The teacher needs to have that willingness to share; if there is no engagement, it is still perfectly possible for the teacher to give, but it is the sharing of ideas, a mutual activity, which leads to an altogether deeper level of engagement, which in turn can increase the enthusiasm and desire for learning. Telling is not teaching.
It is also important not to confuse fun for enthusiasm here. Fun is hugely important of course, but our principal aim from the very beginning of the lesson should be to create an environment where our pupil is going to learn. Of course it is hugely flattering and enjoyable to teach a pupil who likes our company and looks forward to our lessons, but at the same time our pupil needs to be under no illusions that the lesson is principally a learning environment. If we hit the mark, the distinction between fun and learning merges and we’re cooking on gas!
One of the principal factors which will engage and enthuse a student is a clear awareness that they are succeeding. If targets are set too low, or are entirely inappropriate, interest will wane; if targets are too high the task becomes daunting, and all but the most persistent will give up. Good targets are those which are set just within reach, and if we can pack our lessons with lots of these (they can be tiny events; “try this, excellent, well done you”) our pupil will feel enabled and quite possibly enthusiastic to try some more. People love to succeed, and success breeds enthusiasm.
If enthusiasm is missing in our lessons, we need to ask ourselves some searching questions. If we come to the conclusion that the student lacks enthusiasm, we need to change tack and find a way to get onto the positive cycle described above. That’s not always easy, and in some instances it can be a long and frustrating process, but as far as I am concerned, this falls very clearly within the teachers’ job description.
Once we have established an engaged and enthusiastic teaching environment, we are ready to do just that – teach! Most importantly, we are setting out to develop an Enquiring mind, and to Equip our students with the skills which they need to progress. First let’s consider the enquiring bit…