This week I had the following question proposed to me from the Head Director of my school in which I am Student Teaching:
‘If a student who you have taught since 7th grade, convinced him to jump boundaries to come to (School Name) and has taken private lessons at your request from both yourself and (Big Name Lesson Teacher at University) but then begins to become a problem within your program that causes the following conflict. You either have to remove him from your program or go against the very philosophy that you have set up and base your education and instructional actions upon. What do you recommend?’
This was something I have had zero (0) training on in college, this is not what you prepare for, sure you as a teacher will have a student who will test you, but to the extent that this student is, I would have never guessed. Over the course of the week he was placed on a pseudo suspension within the program and it acted as a ‘wake-up call’ of sorts for the student. The students is taking a different school of music audition every week from tomorrow through the first week of March. This student is/was burned out beyond belief and that they were not wanting to carry on but at this point knows nothing else in his life. It took 4 days (the full week) for me to finally give my attempt at an answer to all three directors while we had lunch this afternoon.
I boiled it down to this:’Is having one student in your program for a final semester worth not only possibly compromising the beliefs that this program has been built upon for the past decade but also your personal beliefs and integrity?’ This got them thinking and they applauded me for taking into consideration how this is not just a ‘should the student be in or out’ problem. It was both on a program wide and at a personal conflict as an educator. It gave for some good lunch time conversation including what would happen if this student was removed from 2 music classes if things did not improve, and when should a decision be made. While it is sad to see that this student is hurting, is it truly right to remove him is this is what his life is ‘going to be?’ or is it something that we need to try and help this student before it become both monetarily costly and future plan reversing? I do not think that there is a right answer, even now I am not sure that this can be solved with a be removed or stay and accept help.
On the other hand, there is a student that thinks they are Gods next Gift to music Education, and the problem that we as her educators/mentors are having is the fact that they are not preparing for college. Regionals is tomorrow and they are not prepared to the level that a Music Major should be, we offered all for the past 2 weeks to listen and hold private lessons for help which were all refused until today, and they then preceded to meet with all 4 of us throughout the day. The main thing that is carrying them is that ASU has ‘lowered’ the standard in-which they accept Music Education Major Students and they asked me point blank about this on Tuesday during lunch. There are no words that can describe how shocked I was to learn that this is a reality for many different high school students within our state.
The fact musicians believe that they can do less work to achieve a similar goal I and many others have achieved is a slap in the face personally. I tried to sway them saying you need to do your best, being in Studio is much more important than they think and can actually make or break their overall experience during college. What else can you say? ‘Yes, go forward and try for the minimum and lower our states standards?’ I cannot and will not support this and it goes against part of my working philosophy: ‘Strive for Excellence’. I personally believe anything less than your best is not worth putting out there as it is not the best representation of what you can produce. However, at the end of the day it is not my choice to make, the student will perform however they wish, but I take solace in knowing I did my best to prepare them to be the best that they can be. I hope that I can help better the face of music in the state; it is a personally goal to be the one people strive to be, much like I look/ed to Mr. Jon Gomez, Mr. Nathan Johnston, and Mr. William Richardson to name a few; it is my goal to become somebody that another younger educator wishes to be. What more of an impact could one ask to leave?