Thursday, April 02, 2009

The Suzuki Method

My poor writing students are struggling through yet another listening passage designed by NY State to bore everyone to death as quickly as possible. This time I went back to the last century, 1999 precisely, to a passage about the Suzuki method of violin instruction. The theory is kids learn the violin just as they learned to speak, but according to the passage, it doesn't work as well in America as it did in Japan.

Apparently we don't do things quite as naturally as they do in Japan, but rather we just make kids play Twinkle Twinkle Little Star until their arms fall off. Having experienced this a little, and having seen kids who'd been in the program for years sawing away at things that didn't sound precisely like music, I can't argue with that. Of course, the results must be better at least sometimes, or why would all those folks be dragging their kids to classes so early on Saturday mornings.

One of my students, though, had an even more interesting interpretation, and I'll write it from memory, sparing you a few grammar issues:

The US is a democratic country. Parents don't want to spend time with their kids playing violin. Also, they don't want anyone telling their kids how to play or what to do. Parents want their kids to do what they want and they don't care what anyone tells them. Parents want teachers to leave them alone and leave their kids alone. The Suzuki method won't work here because no one listens to anyone and no one wants anyone to tell them what to do.

Well, I have to get back to my daily routine of letting my kid run rampant and do whatever the hell she feels like whenever she feels like doing it. And any teachers who criticize her, who try to give her any direction or reign in her reign of terror, well, I've got a knuckle sandwich for them

This is America, dammit!
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