Lessons that aren’t

Sometimes lessons (piano, art, etc.) are great.  You find a great teacher, and the results are just what you were hoping for.  Your child learns a lot and loves the learning.

Often, though, lessons are not great.  Often they’re so bad that they turn an interest – something a child was excited to learn, wanted to know more about and have the chance to master – into a chore.

Sometimes this is because the teacher is not a good fit (for the child or the material or both).  But sometimes the teacher’s fine, and kids lose interest anyway.  The problem may be that lessons are not what kids are craving. Lessons are a logical response to interest – we see that a child is seeking further exploration or investigation in some area, or some kind of support we know we can’t provide.  It’s clear that they’re ready to go further, so we look to teachers and lessons.  But kids are not always ready or looking for instruction.

What if instead we were to connect the child with someone who could be a mentor in the area of interest?  Someone who would work alongside, model technique, be available for questions, make suggestions when suggestions are welcome?

This kind of an approach would make it possible for the child to continue exploring and experimenting and figure out whether she is truly suited to the pursuit.  It would also make it more likely that she’d eventually (or soon) ask for instruction and training.

There are of course children who take quickly and well to early lessons.  But many others don’t, so it’s worth considering the preliminary step of mentorship.  The bonus of adding that step is that it also makes room for those (of any age) who love their craft, whatever it may be, to share it with young people without having to turn it into lessons.


2 Responses

  1. This is exactly how I feel about my younger daughter. She does not want lessons; she wants opportunities to practice using the tools and maker her own meaningful connections. We stopped religious school lessons and Bat Mitzvah preparations in order to re-think what would make sense for her. That was the easy part – the hard part is finding someone who can support her in that manner. It takes a long time to find the right match, but when we finally do, it makes a huge difference. Thanks for your insight.

  2. Wish I’d actually done that with my son! I remember when he actually was having FUN “composing” his own music. But that was before lessons. Before he was told that he couldn’t learn the songs that he WANTED to play, because he “wasn’t ready.” I wonder how many passionate musicians have actually been born of someone taking “lessons.”

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