I will open with a statement I issued today on my Facebook page:
The path to instructing a child is that of an instructor that has an adaptability level of an Ocean wave when making way for a passing sailboat. For the instructor is under the presumption that particular situations, analogies, and tasks resonate with this child. This, found in the instructor’s ability to be mentally flexible. As so, the ship may sail smoothly to a higher state of learning.
Throughout my years of teaching I have been fortunate to be at the helm as the captain to the ship of many a young musical learner. This has been particularly interesting for me to observe for multiple reasons. One of these reasons reside at the very root for which children learn. Regardless of genre, each teacher of children are required, at some juncture, to take education in the child psychology field. This is helpful because it gives the teacher a sense from where the child stands. When a teacher and student relationship starts in many instances the dynamics are very much like any other relationship. There are times of increased/decreased comfortability, as well as the mutual understanding of exchange of information. However, the point for which many of the child psychology knowledge seems to misplace, is the point for which they tell you to drop your ego and become fluid with the moment. This might seem as a drastic Buddhist-type analogy for this particular skill of teaching, although I don’t believe this to be true. When teaching a child the principle characteristic that flourishes without fail, regardless of lesson day, is teacher flexibility. For we believe that children are unconditioned sentient beings that only encompass the goodness in all. Ask this information of a parent, for you might find the answering contrary to the aforementioned statement. If you are a parent, you understand this completely. For children are beautiful, kind, and innocent – yes. However, as a parent you know that children can, just like anyone, fall into patterns and behaviors that seem uncharacteristic of sentient beings. In this regard, children seem to be the first to fall into a pattern base of gravitational comfortless. Meaning, children want to be in a comfortable place in which they are familiar. As most of us know, life is not of such merit. Therefore, a child placed into a situation for which they are instructed to learn something that is out of their jurisdictionally comfortable areas (either physical or mental), their immediate reaction might come as resistance. The simple cure for this, seemingly overlooked dilema, is for the burden to be absorbed by the instructor. For if the teacher can remain completely open and adaptable to each passing movement during the duration of the allotted time for instruction the student will sense a feeling of ease amongst. This, in turn becomes a lesson more for the teacher than the child. Adults are conditioned to teaching “within” a curriculum, method, and/or ideology. Children don’t operate “within” anything other than situations that presented themselves as viable necessities for their beginning survival. Therefore, with the instructors willingness to be adaptable to each situation, the child will see this as non-confrontational. This is key for the child’s long and short term enjoyment of the subject for which you are communicating to them. I submit this to you: the next time a child wants to do something completely outside your idea of what they “should” be doing, allow it. Watch their face; does it relax? Does it smile? Is it possible that they are finding enjoyment in being themselves with this new toy, for which you call an instrument?