Consider this post to be a rant if you like. I’ve noticed lately that a lot of my music students have switched off their thinking caps, preferring to have information spoon-fed to them. Quite frankly I dislike doing this, unless they are incapable of understanding what I teach. I find this problem more pressing with older children; younger children tend to be more inquisitive and ask questions. The older a child gets, the quieter they become (at least it seems that way to me).
I think part of the blame lies with the dreadful education system we have in this country, where school children tend to be spoon-fed mostly everything, and there is very little room for motivating them to think, question, argue, etc. I find this spilling out when I teach music theory especially. They remain very passive, occasionally giving me a slight nod of their heads (just to prove they are still awake) and hardly ever ask questions. I’ve always told them (especially more advanced students from Grade 6 and above) to arm themselves with a notebook to take down notes when I’m talking (because if it’s not important, why am I bothering to say it to you?) Most of them reluctantly do it, more to please me than to benefit themselves. If they had their way, they’d rather just sit there and listen to me yak as if I were just telling them fairy tales.
I see this when they do their music theory assignments. They think for as little as they can, and then come up with an answer. That’s it, they won’t ask themselves something like, “OK, I’ve said the answer is this. Do the other factors in the question make this answer to be correct?” I’ve told them over and over to do this, but it just falls on deaf ears. Moreover, when I nag them to check, they perceive this to be another chore. And then they wonder what went wrong when the music theory exam results arrive.
Albert Einstein said, “Small is the number of people who see with their eyes and think with their minds.” Here’s another great one from him: “I think and think for months and years. Ninety-nine times, the conclusion is false. The hundredth time I am right.”
To my students—God has endowed each and every one of us with a wonderful organ called the brain. Use it, and use it wisely and profusely!