Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Two Sided Coins

"And when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin,
When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall,
Then how should I begin"

Last week's teaching, in common parlance, was a doozy. Or more accurately, a mixed bag of low and high.

This semester, I have been experiencing a bit of turmoil coming from one particular student. Last year, she was motivated, interested and easy to teach. This year, it's like dragging rocks up a mountain side. It's been nothing but a fight. Every week the same old complaints of "I hate a pick." "This music is stupid." "I am never going to play guitar again, so why should I practice?" Or this one: "All I want is a C out of this course anyway."

She is the sourest student I can remember in recent history. Immature for her age for sure. This kind of situation can zap your energy and positivity in a flash. You can, in a sense, feel yourself going down with the ship. Best to keep a distance. Or you will end up in an immature discussion all designed to avert the truth that she is not doing the work. It's a slight-of-hand trick that students use all the time.

Each week, I have stepped back and become all business. I can and have seen where this might lead: end of the year grade grumbling. I have alerted the department chairperson and come time for juries, he will be up to speed about her declining interest and lousy attitude.

On the flip side, I am blessed with two students who are like sponges. I had been wanting to put these two bright players together for some time and watch the sparks fly. The youngest is a sophmore in high school and the other a college senior. The three of us sounded like maniacs. An hour and a half later, all combinations of finger exercises played at challenging tempi and a dash of King Crimson, we were all still energized, but I think they wanted to quit. I felt it, but was elated. So far from the drudgery of the previous lesson.

The next week, I asked the high school kid what he thought of the lesson. Though bright and pleasant natured, he is always a man of few words.

"My arms were tired."

Oh yeah. I rock.

Oh yeah.


Anonymous said...

Great feelings with lessons like the latter.

I used to carry a couple of comic books for the first lesson. No practice.....here Richie Rich or Spiderman?


The Only Mister Ed said...

In the Dark Night of the Teacher's Soul there comes a light. For all the crap, there's bound to be a pony in there somewhere!