March 17, 2011 by Willy Cardoso
There’s so much we can learn about teaching simply by looking outside of the teaching world.
A few minutes ago I was thinking about an orchestra and I started to picture it as a classroom. Where is the teacher? hmm… the teacher must be the maestro, the conductor.
Why? He sets the mood, the rythm… tempo and dynamics. How important that is for a teacher as well, “to manage the dynamics of learning” — sounds grandiose, and scary…
The conductor has also planning and managerial duties. He needs to know the curriculum, the syllabus, the lesson plan!
It seems teachers and maestros have quite analogous responsibilities to the smooth running of their working environments and endeavours.
then I was thinking (a few minutes later), “how boring!”
“how old!” -it is to think that a teacher is a conductor, and that the students are sitting in rows reading something they’ve already seen and done many times, with other people next to them doing the same thing — plus, it’s already there! no novelty, improv, dialogue!
hey wait — improv? dialogue?
A classroom is not a pompous concert hall, it’s just a jazz joint (just a jazz joint, I repeated this a couple of times to myself, ’cause it sounds so nice, j-j-j, just’ jazz joint)
So, here’s a new stage to picture – but the same question: Where is the teacher?
I can’t find him! But he’s somewhere… not standing out now – he’s blended in. It’s a jazz improv, the syllabus is nothing but a short whistle, a slender melody, that can be twisted, subverted, accelerated and joyfully played with by off-the-cuff hands and minds.
Here’s an example:
(if you don’t want to listen to the music, skip to 3:10 – there’s a brief interview)
The interviewer asks: What happened to the melody?
and later adds: Are trying to get rid of the melody?
(How’s that?? it’s like are you trying to get rid of the coursebook? get rid of the syllabus?)
Billy (the pianist) is aware and smooth, like some teachers I know, he gracefully answers:
No… just embellish it a bit .. put our own personality into it.
Next time someone complains about having to teach the curriculum, follow strict syllabi and hundred-paged coursebooks, you can say: