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Praise everything mentality (Read 6851 times)

Offline pianoslav

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Praise everything mentality
« on: August 29, 2013, 07:41:19 PM »
I learned to play piano in the Russian school where the role of the teacher was very simple: teaching the students to play the instrument at the highest possible level. This didn't involve any elaborate relationships with the students or special approaches. I would get an assignment, go home and work on it, and come back to the lesson where the teacher would correct any mistakes.

As a teacher now, I find it very hard to understand why the teacher has to be the students' best friend or be their motivator. When did criticism of mistakes turn into the teacher giving students physical prizes such as candy? As a student, neither me nor any of my peers would ever take criticism of our mistakes personally. Why does a teacher have to praise a student for a sloppy performance in order to keep them motivated? If a student begins to dislike piano after a little constructive criticism, maybe the student never liked playing piano to begin with. If they enjoy playing piano, they will want criticism to improve their playing. Maybe the student who no longer enjoys piano after the teacher corrects their mistakes was only taking piano lessons because of all the praise the teacher would give them for tripping over the keys rather than the joy of making music.

In my opinion the praise everything mentality is a just another way we are spoiling our next generation. You can't improve your skills at something if you don't know what to fix and get showered with praise. Don't get me wrong, I am not encouraging physical punishment or yelling at the mis-performing students, but I believe that the teacher who buddies-up with the student and praises everything is doing them a great disservice.

Offline faulty_damper

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Re: Praise everything mentality
«Reply #1 on: August 30, 2013, 04:16:16 AM »
I'm in the US so what you say is unfortunately all too true.  The consequences of such attitudes can be reflected in shows such as American Idol or X-Factor where some contestants clearly could not sing but they truly believed they could.  And when they are told how they really sing, they are shocked like someone had just killed their mother.  They respond with things like, "But my friends all love the way I sing."  (You need to get new friends. Honest ones.)

I think the problem isn't what you think it is, however.  The problem actually lies in the fact that teachers don't have expertise in their subject areas.  As a result, they don't know what 'good' actually is so they say "great!" to everything.

Most teachers do a pretty poor job at teaching; this is the consequence of their own poor instruction.  And very few of them ever achieved mastery of their art.  And those that do don't teach; they perform.  ("Those that can, do.  Those that can't, teach.")

It's an unfortunate situation.

Offline faulty_damper

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Re: Praise everything mentality
«Reply #2 on: August 30, 2013, 04:23:52 AM »
Now for an alternative perspective, in the book, Generation Me (2006), Jean Twenge, who studies sociology, says that the reason for all of this praise is actually a recent phenomenon.  She says that the reason for all this praise was due to research on self-esteem which suggested that self-esteem was very important and was key to success.  This led parents and teachers to start praising their children for anything.  If they did good, bad, or nothing, they all received praise.  The consequences are that today's young generation are so full of self-esteem that they take pride in having no skills or knowledge.  But that's okay, because they feel good about themselves anyway.

The subtitle of the book is this: "Why Today's Young Americans Are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled--and More Miserable Than Ever Before"

That's the consequence of excessive, unwarranted praise.

Offline dima_ogorodnikov

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Re: Praise everything mentality
«Reply #3 on: August 30, 2013, 05:32:38 AM »
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No amount of how-to information is going to work if you have the wrong mindset, the wrong guiding philosophies. Avoid losers like the plague, and gather with and learn from winners only.

Offline lojay

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Re: Praise everything mentality
«Reply #4 on: August 30, 2013, 05:49:34 AM »
@pianoslav: George Carlin would be proud.

Offline dima_ogorodnikov

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Re: Praise everything mentality
«Reply #5 on: August 30, 2013, 06:22:49 AM »
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No amount of how-to information is going to work if you have the wrong mindset, the wrong guiding philosophies. Avoid losers like the plague, and gather with and learn from winners only.

Offline keypeg

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Re: Praise everything mentality
«Reply #6 on: August 30, 2013, 06:52:25 AM »
It is not about praise.  It is not about criticism.  It's not about of having played "beautifully" or having played "horribly".  It is about guidance.  And as Faulty Damper said, in order to guide there also has to be expertise - not only in what needs to be heard and done, but how to bring it across.

If the playing is good, what is good about it?  If it's bad, what is bad about it, and how can it be corrected?  If a student's playing is uneven, what does he need to do to make it even - or what is preventing that evenness?  Will the student just go home and try to make it sound right in the way he has been told it should sound, without knowing how to bring that about?

Both the praisers and the criticizers are out to lunch if they can't guide.

Offline pianoslav

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Re: Praise everything mentality
«Reply #7 on: August 30, 2013, 07:10:23 AM »

1) Praise "everything" is an extreme, and extremes are never really productive.

1) My use of "everything" is not an exaggeration in the least. Here's a relatively recent example. I was having a conversation with a group of music teachers and in the course of the conversation I mentioned that I told one of my students during a piano lesson that they had a bad performance. Every one of the teachers immediately began to reprimand me for being "horrible" because "you can't say that to people." How much less critical can you get if you can't identify the negative aspects of a performance and the word "bad" is off limits? I'm sure it's brother "not good" is also unacceptable, only leaving us with its distant cousin "could have been better." That's a group of teachers that only believes in praise as a teaching method.

2) If "teaching" involves nothing else but giving repertoire and "correcting mistakes" in the next lesson, then that is not good teaching.

2) You're criticizing a point that I never made by misrepresenting what I said then arguing it down. I chose the word "assignment" with the understanding that other teachers reading this post understand that "repertoire" is only one type of assignment. I can assign much more that just a new piece.

3) A really COMPETENT teacher (a rare breed, I admit) works not only on repertoire, but also helps the students to get contact with themselves, with their bodies, a quality that is indispensable to become a true artist. Besides, the teacher does that according to a plan he/she has in mind, tailored to the needs of that particular student, step by step. In this incredibly difficult process for both the giving and the receiving party, positive reinforcement (the use of praise where it is appropriate) is one of the most powerful tools for shaping or changing the student's behavior, just as it is in dog training. For a trick that was done well, you praise the dog. Now, if you give a dog tricks to do that it can't really do or is not ready to do yet, what do you suggest, punishment maybe? :)

3) I suggest you re-read my original post. You might be surprised to find out that nowhere in my original post do I define what I consider to be competent teaching. On the contrary, I discussed the praise everything mentality of teachers which is a component of INCOMPETENT TEACHING. Please do criticize my teaching methods, when I never presented them. Please show everyone the part in my post where I denounce positive reinforcement. In fact, why don’t you teach me what a “true artist” is, since you got the impression from my post that I don’t understand what one is?

 

Offline pianoslav

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Re: Praise everything mentality
«Reply #8 on: August 30, 2013, 07:11:22 AM »
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Offline dima_ogorodnikov

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Re: Praise everything mentality
«Reply #9 on: August 30, 2013, 07:23:05 AM »
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No amount of how-to information is going to work if you have the wrong mindset, the wrong guiding philosophies. Avoid losers like the plague, and gather with and learn from winners only.

Offline pianoslav

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Re: Praise everything mentality
«Reply #10 on: August 30, 2013, 07:42:33 AM »
@ pianoslav

What I wrote was not meant to criticize YOU. It was a "happy student's view" of what good teaching is and what role "praise" plays on the way to success, but since you don't seem to like students talking back, I'll just keep silent, OK? :)

So your "happy student's view" just coincidentally quoted phrases from my post and misrepresented them?

and what about this:
@ pianoslav
That must be in reference to the other pianoslav in this post.

You must hold the line that a teacher may not criticize a student if you react like this.

Offline dima_ogorodnikov

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Re: Praise everything mentality
«Reply #11 on: August 30, 2013, 08:06:47 AM »
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No amount of how-to information is going to work if you have the wrong mindset, the wrong guiding philosophies. Avoid losers like the plague, and gather with and learn from winners only.

Offline ted

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Re: Praise everything mentality
«Reply #12 on: August 30, 2013, 08:33:22 AM »
As a rule my teacher never praised me. But he knew me inside out musically, and realised that what I needed was discipline and the springboard of his ideas. "You sound drunk, you have no idea where you are going or what you are doing." (with regard to improvisation, which was our main direction) Our lessons were full of such comments. In fact he was never satisfied with anything I played. Occasionally it got to me, but I had such a tremendous musical drive myself, and respect for his musicianship, that he could have abused me senseless and I wouldn't have cared.

I am not advocating rudeness, of course, but surely both pupil and teacher should have, as a mutual ideal, the furtherance of their art. Part of that is the realisation that nothing is ever so good it is beyond work; nothing ever reaches unassailable stasis; music and art are forever dynamic and growing. The danger of praise is that it may foster the quite erroneous notion that nothing further need be done, that the job has ended. That is fundamentally opposed to what art is about.
"We're all bums when the wagon comes." - Waller

Offline bronnestam

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Re: Praise everything mentality
«Reply #13 on: August 30, 2013, 08:45:44 AM »
Funny that I wrote a reflection about this yesterday. My opinion is about the total opposite of yours, by the way.

It breaks my heart to see ignorant comments like "young people have too much self esteem in these days, they are terrible to deal with yada yada yada". The world would be a MUCH better place today if generation after generation had not nurtured this idea, that youths should be taken down in order to become "bearable".

And so we are living in a society where good, healthy self esteem is quite rare. Everybody is trying to compete (and only the winner can be satisfied, right?), everybody is constantly comparing themselves to everybody, and the conclusion is nearly always: I am not good enough. I must change. I must improve. (Become a better pianist, get slimmer, more fit, get more hair, get less hair, make a nose job, earn more money, get more popular, more this, less that ...)

Many little kids go to their first school day filled with happy anticipation, with shining eyes, so eager to discover, to learn, to grow. A few years later they struggle with motivation, with self esteem, with the constant, nagging idea of not being good enough. How come?

My son is 16. He ended last year of mandatory school with no approved grades at all. Now he is doing a "rerun" year, or a "preparation year", in order to get his grades up so that he can go to senior high. (The equivalent.) He is intelligent and talented, everybody says so, even his teachers. BUT he has also ADHD and slight authism.
We have tried to encourage him all his life, just like we have encouraged his sister (who indeed has high self esteem now, but she is also "normal".) But obviously we have failed, together with school ... because my son is very difficult sometimes, he is not doing well socially (rather, he is not "doing" at all!) and he has a bad temper, among other things. So all his life he has been told to change, "if you only did this instead of that, it would be fine". All his life he has, obviously, nurtured the feeling of being different, of being odd, of being wrong => of being a failure.

Two years ago we feared he would end up committing suicide because his self esteem was practically non-existent. If someone happened to be kind to him, he used to say, and still says: "it is just because they don't know me yet. When they learn how I am, they will hate me."
 :'(   Once he said he wanted to kill me, because I was apparently a bad mother as I had given birth to such a miserable son like him!
We found him a better school, thank God, where he at least was accepted just as he was, and where the teachers did not constantly point out to him what he was doing wrong. He is doing much better now, but he still must catch up with his studies.
Yesterday we were doing maths together and we really had a good time. Yes, I praised him, I praised everything that could be praised. I told him, over and over again, that he is smart, that he is good at maths.

AND THEN ACTUALLY HE IS. If I tell him, enough many times, that he is good at something, he suddenly starts to believe me. And then he gets confident, and then he starts to smile and be nice, and then he is suddenly, indeed, very good at maths. Or whatever. If he is stuck with the "I am hopeless" idea, he cannot even add 7+8. He stares at me and says "I don't know ... 14, or? 13? You tell me!"  And then he gets motivated again, and then he can just take a glance at a rather difficult math problem and tell me the right solution without hesitation.

Some years ago he liked the "homecraft" class quite a lot. He loved making cookies and cupcakes, he came home with a perfect rolled cake and was shining with pride. Then he got his grades - an F!!! We were shocked, and he had to ask the teacher why he did not get more, as he had been doing all the moments. "Yes," she said, "but I don't think you seem to pay enough attention when I talk".
So, that stupid cow had no idea what ADHD means. Or did not bother. And after that my son has refused to cook anything at all. He can barely use a microwave oven. What a help he got there.  >:(

Every time you meet someone who seems to be "spoiled" and "full of themselves", you can be pretty sure that their self esteem is N O T very high. What you see is a frightened little toad trying to get bigger as he has no other defense. People who are bragging, loud-mouthed and unfriendly in general, do not have high self esteem and have no confidence. They just try to pretend they have, in order to compensate for their inner feelings. People who really trust themselves are friendly, humble and have no need to show off. They don't need confirmation from anyone else. They are not afraid of being critizised, they will use the critzism in a wise, constructive way. They have no need of taking anyone else down, as they don't feel threatened.

I don't think we should lie to a piano student and tell him he played something well when he, in fact, did not. But you must praise every progress he makes, no matter how small, no matter on how low level we have to start. I know, from own experience, that this is the quickest way to encourage motivation and real progress.

Many of you seem to take for granted that a person already has self esteem and self confidence. So, then they can take harsh critizism and "honesty". But piano playing is not just for mental supermen, mind you. It is not an elitist thing. It is for anyone who find a joy in it, no matter on what level. Praise will not spoil the child, I can tell you. But remember: praise the progress, don't praise the RESULT unless it is really good. Instead say "you are doing better now, you have improved this and that, you have potential!"  If you praise a mediocre result and pretend it is perfect, the student will stop trying and start living in an illusion that will take her nowhere. And one day she will see the truth and tell herself "so, they did not think I could be better than that, so they just wanted to comfort me, I was probably a hopeless case".

Tell them they have potential, that they are doing well, that they have a future. (Because who are you to tell them they have NOT? Only God knows that.) Then you can point out what needs more work ... and they will be just grateful, as they feel you help them to grow. But - always start with the praise.

Offline keypeg

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Re: Praise everything mentality
«Reply #14 on: August 30, 2013, 04:36:50 PM »
It breaks my heart to see ignorant comments like "young people have too much self esteem in these days, they are terrible to deal with yada yada yada". The world would be a MUCH better place today if generation after generation had not nurtured this idea, that youths should be taken down in order to become "bearable".
That talk was, and remains, nonsense.  To begin with, you cannot have "too much" self-esteem.    Strong self-esteem also means that you will look a good hard look at your weaknesses, and determine to fix them, and be confident that you can fix them.  The person who goes around saying how great he is does NOT have self-esteem.

Quote
We were shocked, and he had to ask the teacher why he did not get more, as he had been doing all the moments. "Yes," she said, "but I don't think you seem to pay enough attention when I talk".
So, that stupid cow had no idea what ADHD means.
..... What teaching means?  Teaching means that you transmit skills and knowledge, and learning means that those things have been acquired.

When I was still homeschooling and tutoring (I am a former trained teacher with B.Ed., experience, specializations) I went to the teaching supply store for supplies.  Two women came in, mothers, talking about their grade one children's report cards.  One mother was worried about her child's report card.  The child had top grades in reading, writing, arithmetic, science, geography, phys ed. - every subject.  But he didn't "socialize" enough, didn't raise his hand enough.   A lot was written about that "problem".  So the mother was worried.  I found this very disturbing.

Offline timothy42b

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Re: Praise everything mentality
«Reply #15 on: August 30, 2013, 05:40:21 PM »
I've run the Shamrock Marathon in Virginia Beach a couple of times.  I won't do it again; my 60 year old joints no longer tolerate the level of training required to prepare for one.  I still run, but the minimum I need for health.

But at least I finished, right?

Well, no; that's false praise.  Of the 28,000 runners, probably 27,000 beat my time.  Clearly I'm a loser, and it would be much better to be brutally honest and tell me so, rather than puff my self esteem up with fake accolades for having finished. 

In fact, only the top 3 finishers really deserve to be called winners.  The rest of us, 28,000 strong?  Losers. 

In every 30 child classroom, there is one top student and 29 also-rans. 
Tim

Offline faulty_damper

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Re: Praise everything mentality
«Reply #16 on: August 31, 2013, 04:39:27 AM »
Many little kids go to their first school day filled with happy anticipation, with shining eyes, so eager to discover, to learn, to grow. A few years later they struggle with motivation, with self esteem, with the constant, nagging idea of not being good enough. How come?
Social pressure.  They become self-aware and realize they are pigs controlled in a pen so herd mentality kicks in - don't be different, don't draw attention.  This does not happen in every school, however.  The schools that integrate teachers and students probably don't see this simply because students have social guidance.


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Two years ago we feared he would end up committing suicide because his self esteem was practically non-existent.
People don't commit suicide because of low self-esteem.  People commit suicide due to social isolation, i.e. no friends.

Offline lojay

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Re: Praise everything mentality
«Reply #17 on: August 31, 2013, 04:49:36 AM »
People don't commit suicide because of low self-esteem.  People commit suicide due to social isolation, i.e. no friends.

Aren't we presumptuous?  I'd normally say experience it yourself before talking about it, but with suicide it's kind of hard, eh?

I'm sure people have committed suicide for both reasons among many others.

Offline dima_ogorodnikov

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Re: Praise everything mentality
«Reply #18 on: August 31, 2013, 05:23:14 AM »
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No amount of how-to information is going to work if you have the wrong mindset, the wrong guiding philosophies. Avoid losers like the plague, and gather with and learn from winners only.

Offline keyofc

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Re: Praise everything mentality
«Reply #19 on: October 15, 2013, 02:18:14 AM »
You could lose a race and not be a loser!

Offline minifingers

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Re: Praise everything mentality
«Reply #20 on: October 15, 2013, 10:01:21 AM »
I find the whole idea a rather interesting one, I've had 3 teachers so far and they've each taught me something a little different about this.

My worst taught me that meaningless praise (saying good to whatever I did however well) made me feel very insecure about my playing. I really didn't know if what I thought was good was actually good and what I thought was bad was not so bad as all that as I always got the same response. Although once she did venture to say I needed to improve my dynamics (to which I felt frustrated as I had tried, I just didn't know how). So yes I can totally believe that inappropriate praise can cause problems.

There's no point in telling someone that their work is brilliant when it's not, however I think often it's a case of gauging how someone feels about something, if they're very pleased with a poor performance compared to their usual or you're working on something and it's not getting better, then constructive criticism is called for. However if they're clearly upset with how they performed then the person may need some encouragement by telling them what they did right then trying to help them with what they feel they're struggling with.

I've taught teenagers before in a youth group setting and I find they are most happy and engaged when they don't feel like they're going to get shot down in flames for getting something 'wrong' and are encouraged and praised for making an effort to have a go at getting it right whether what they thought was right was actually correct or not, still the praise given has to, above all things be accurate.

Offline keyofc

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Re: Praise everything mentality
«Reply #21 on: November 07, 2013, 09:10:13 PM »
Yes - its really good to know what you're doing right - and what you need work on.
But even if a person if not 'doing it right' and they are doing it better -
shouldn't that be noticed?

There is harm in overdoing anything - I've talked to a lot of elderly people who once took
piano lessons.  Asking them why they quit - they almost always said that their teacher was too strict,
they were afraid to make a mistake.

That's sad to me.

Offline Bob

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Re: Praise everything mentality
«Reply #22 on: November 07, 2013, 11:47:50 PM »
For public schools, there's is too much praise I think.  And "punishment" is looked down upon -- You just withhold praise instead of punishing.   ::)  If the student doesn't care about the praise.... "I don't want the pizza reward.  I get pizza all the time at home, whenever I want."


There's effort put in, learning, and the actual outcome.  Those are the things I'd praise or recognize. 
Favorite new teacher quote -- "You found the only possible wrong answer."

Offline Mayla

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Re: Praise everything mentality
«Reply #23 on: November 08, 2013, 02:46:57 AM »
.  
"The greatest thing in this world is not so much where we are, but in what direction we are moving"  ~Oliver Wendell Holmes

Offline faulty_damper

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Re: Praise everything mentality
«Reply #24 on: November 08, 2013, 06:30:39 AM »
Aren't we presumptuous?  I'd normally say experience it yourself before talking about it, but with suicide it's kind of hard, eh?

I'm sure people have committed suicide for both reasons among many others.

Not according to the research which strongly suggests it's social isolation which leads to depression which leads to suicidal ideation which can lead to suicidal attempts.

It's only when people have strong social ties that suicide does not occur.  This is why those who are bullied tend not to have any friends, or when she does something that she is ridiculed for (sexual acts) that she attempts suicide.  These people have no real friends to whom they can relate to.

Researchers Outline Effective Strategies to Prevent Teen Depression and Suicide
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121115162132.htm


Offline ajspiano

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Re: Praise everything mentality
«Reply #25 on: November 08, 2013, 07:29:26 AM »
positive reinforcement (the use of praise where it is appropriate) is one of the most powerful tools for shaping or changing the student's behavior, just as it is in dog training. For a trick that was done well, you praise the dog. Now, if you give a dog tricks to do that it can't really do or is not ready to do yet, what do you suggest, punishment maybe? :)

Speaking as a dog trainer (or at least the husband of one) -

In the beginning, we have the "teaching" phase of a dog's new skill/behaviour which involves positive reinforcement only, along side the behaviour generation techniques such as luring, capturing and shaping. The teaching phase is over once the dog knows the command and can consistently exhibit the behaviour for reward.

Then comes "training", where positive reinforcement becomes intermittent and punishment is used to sharpen the speed and consistency of the skill. The mode becomes "there is a reward for you doing this, and there is a consequence for your failure to do this"

Lastly, "proofing", which is the phase where behaviours are confirmed in new environments and under distraction.

.....

And speaking as a piano teacher, understanding and applying the behavioural adjustment methods and theories used in dog training is worth serious consideration to anyone teaching a human anything. Humans have all the same responses, and can be conditioned using the same methods - the differences are in the complexity of our cognitive processes and the level at which we can be expected to think and respond to rewards/punishments.

#cue the outrage at my treating students the same way I would a dog... kind of...

Offline pianoplunker

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Re: Praise everything mentality
«Reply #26 on: November 08, 2013, 08:20:25 AM »
I learned to play piano in the Russian school where the role of the teacher was very simple: teaching the students to play the instrument at the highest possible level. This didn't involve any elaborate relationships with the students or special approaches. I would get an assignment, go home and work on it, and come back to the lesson where the teacher would correct any mistakes.

As a teacher now, I find it very hard to understand why the teacher has to be the students' best friend or be their motivator. When did criticism of mistakes turn into the teacher giving students physical prizes such as candy? As a student, neither me nor any of my peers would ever take criticism of our mistakes personally. Why does a teacher have to praise a student for a sloppy performance in order to keep them motivated? If a student begins to dislike piano after a little constructive criticism, maybe the student never liked playing piano to begin with. If they enjoy playing piano, they will want criticism to improve their playing. Maybe the student who no longer enjoys piano after the teacher corrects their mistakes was only taking piano lessons because of all the praise the teacher would give them for tripping over the keys rather than the joy of making music.

In my opinion the praise everything mentality is a just another way we are spoiling our next generation. You can't improve your skills at something if you don't know what to fix and get showered with praise. Don't get me wrong, I am not encouraging physical punishment or yelling at the mis-performing students, but I believe that the teacher who buddies-up with the student and praises everything is doing them a great disservice.

I think this happens in other areas of society as well.  In parenting, which is super-teaching, it is desired for the child to succeed in life but there must be structure, and the child must conform to the structure not the other way around. Making the child conform to structure is alot more work and requires honest evaluation and discipline from the parent. Thus to make things easier, parents often dont provide structure , guidance, and discipline, but instead provide only positive hollow comments for little baby self esteem. And if Baby wants to play the piano, the teacher better be nice enough to offer only positive critique since it would hurt baby's feelings to do all that practice and still not get it right. In the US Martial arts is another classic exhibit of giving kids blackbelts to make them feel like they mastered something when in fact they have not. Not all, but it is out there. 

Offline pianoplunker

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Re: Praise everything mentality
«Reply #27 on: November 08, 2013, 08:34:47 AM »
#cue the outrage at my treating students the same way I would a dog... kind of...

Well, you do have to make them learn to sit

Offline keypeg

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Re: Praise everything mentality
«Reply #28 on: November 08, 2013, 12:26:55 PM »
Yes - its really good to know what you're doing right - and what you need work on.
But even if a person if not 'doing it right' and they are doing it better -
shouldn't that be noticed?
Actually, I think that is even the essence.  I'll explain.  Ok, some parts of piano are "right-wrong" kinds of things.  If the music says "B, C, D" and you play "D,E,F" that's wrong.  If you mistake a treble clef for a bass clef, that's wrong. But that's not the only side of music.

Like in physical playing, what you are doing might get you there pretty well as it should, but there may be a much better way.  Or in interpretation, maybe you have a rough idea about shaping the dynamics or whatever, or even a good way, but there may be something else around the corner.  We want to know about these things - in fact, we need to.

There's also the fact that coordination comes with time, and the ear develops over time.  So it's more like the teacher is pointing us in the right direction and then fine tunes.  One example: bringing out the main voice and playing it louder than the accompaniment.  That's a "pat your head and rub your stomach" kind of coordination - I got it taught in stages.  The first was to play the RH loud, and the LH as soft as possible.  This was "right" for that stage, and feedback goes toward it.  But eventually you want to shade the RH into more dynamics, maybe subtle timing or whatever makes music become music.

In fact, I think this "better" is a huge part of it.

My main point has been that it's not a matter of general praise or general criticism, but rather specific things that will guide the student.  If that is the case, the whole issue disappears.

Offline timothy42b

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Re: Praise everything mentality
«Reply #29 on: November 08, 2013, 02:07:37 PM »
Well, you do have to make them learn to sit

Never sit down.

Always sit up.
Tim

Offline faulty_damper

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Re: Praise everything mentality
«Reply #30 on: November 08, 2013, 06:00:04 PM »
Speaking as a dog trainer (or at least the husband of one) -

In the beginning, we have the "teaching" phase...
Then comes "training"...
Lastly, "proofing"...

This type of training comes from the psychological literature on learning based on BF Skinner's work.  It works well for simple stimuli with food rewards.  However, the work on rats is not entirely applicable to either dogs or humans because of the emotional component that Skinner did not even address.  If you try behaviorism, you'll get resentment from both dogs and humans because both are emotionally-based animals.  This is why attempting behaviorism in schools doesn't work to change negative behavior, only displaces that negative behavior into some other manifestation.  The best way to change behavior is through positive social reinforcement since it not only elicits the desired behavioral change, but it also integrates the outcast into the group.

Offline timothy42b

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Re: Praise everything mentality
«Reply #31 on: November 08, 2013, 07:01:15 PM »
.  If you try behaviorism, you'll get resentment from both dogs and humans because both are emotionally-based animals.  This is why attempting behaviorism in schools doesn't work to change negative behavior, only displaces that negative behavior into some other manifestation.  The best way to change behavior is through positive social reinforcement since it not only elicits the desired behavioral change, but it also integrates the outcast into the group.

You have a very narrow view of behaviorism and (trying not to be too harsh here) it feels like armchair theory.

Those of us who have worked in schools and institutions and used this stuff see it very differently. 
Tim

Offline faulty_damper

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Re: Praise everything mentality
«Reply #32 on: November 08, 2013, 07:57:33 PM »
I'm mostly talking about aggression or other such behaviors.  Which is why "problem" students remain problem students.  And I've worked in schools.

Offline Bob

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Re: Praise everything mentality
«Reply #33 on: November 09, 2013, 12:03:53 AM »
Behaviorism is still present in schools.  That's what I see, and those schools have better behaved students.  Constructivism sounds great, but in reality you get kids that don't adjust or just don't care.  Some of them need to be knocked off their feet.  It also allows one kids to spoil things for everyone else.  Behaviorism might produce resentment but if things are better overall...

What student really don't like is when you tell them it's behaviorism.  "I'm going to x.  That cause you do to do y.  X.... See?  You do Y.  Haha."  Except behaviorism works both ways though.  They also really don't like when you explain the "illusion" of choice they receive.
Favorite new teacher quote -- "You found the only possible wrong answer."

Offline ajspiano

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Re: Praise everything mentality
«Reply #34 on: November 09, 2013, 01:29:21 AM »
This type of training comes from the psychological literature on learning based on BF Skinner's work.  It works well for simple stimuli with food rewards.  However, the work on rats is not entirely applicable to either dogs or humans because of the emotional component that Skinner did not even address.  If you try behaviorism, you'll get resentment from both dogs and humans because both are emotionally-based animals.  This is why attempting behaviorism in schools doesn't work to change negative behavior, only displaces that negative behavior into some other manifestation.  The best way to change behavior is through positive social reinforcement since it not only elicits the desired behavioral change, but it also integrates the outcast into the group.

the post above is heavily simplified so far as how one would apply it to a human and warrants much elaboration on rewards and punishments and how when what to do..

that process is also not something you use as a method for behavioral adjustments such as where dogs (or humans) have behaviours exhibited as a result of emotional response.. aggression due to anxiety or fear for example etc.   it plays a part but its hardly the whole picture..

in its simple form above its just how you teach a dog basic commands when they are in a stable emotional state..  or more complex commands by linking together a series of simple ones.

Offline faulty_damper

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Re: Praise everything mentality
«Reply #35 on: November 09, 2013, 02:18:25 AM »
Behaviorism is still present in schools.  That's what I see, and those schools have better behaved students.  Constructivism sounds great, but in reality you get kids that don't adjust or just don't care.  Some of them need to be knocked off their feet.  It also allows one kids to spoil things for everyone else.  Behaviorism might produce resentment but if things are better overall...

Behaviorism and Constructivism are two different things that address two different things.  Behaviorism is more like a computer: input = output.
Constructivism is letting them figure it out on their own.
Due to the inherent differences between the two, it can only address things inherent to each which means neither is one-size-fits-all.

Anyway, my perspective differs from both since my background is learning and memory and emotional behavior, so I'm biased to see it from this perspective.

Offline keypeg

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Re: Praise everything mentality
«Reply #36 on: November 09, 2013, 04:50:37 AM »
.

Offline keypeg

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Re: Praise everything mentality
«Reply #37 on: November 09, 2013, 04:52:57 AM »
.

Offline outin

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Re: Praise everything mentality
«Reply #38 on: November 09, 2013, 05:02:37 AM »
the post above is heavily simplified so far as how one would apply it to a human and warrants much elaboration on rewards and punishments and how when what to do..

that process is also not something you use as a method for behavioral adjustments such as where dogs (or humans) have behaviours exhibited as a result of emotional response.. aggression due to anxiety or fear for example etc.   it plays a part but its hardly the whole picture..

in its simple form above its just how you teach a dog basic commands when they are in a stable emotional state..  or more complex commands by linking together a series of simple ones.

I might add that this type of teaching to be effective requires one-to-one long term interaction and consistency, which can happen in private teaching or in family settings, but not in schools. Whatever reward and punishment system is used in schools will always be arbitrary and often timed incorrectly so it would not work. 

My experience is that learning to train animals has been extremely useful in learning to deal with people  ;)

Offline timothy42b

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Re: Praise everything mentality
«Reply #39 on: November 09, 2013, 02:34:16 PM »
Quote from: outin
I might add that this type of teaching to be effective requires one-to-one long term interaction and consistency, which can happen in private teaching or in family settings, but not in schools.

I would not agree.  Behavior (and that's intended as a broad term encompassing everything, not just misbehavior) is always shaped by reward and punishment, external and internal. 

Quote
Whatever reward and punishment system is used in schools will always be arbitrary and often timed incorrectly so it would not work. 


There I would agree.  What is missing is that a reward and punishment environment is ALWAYS operating.  Failure to recognize that is what causes the arbitrary nature of the setting.  One of the benefits of the behaviorist approach (and now I am being specific) is to bring this to awareness.  It is not possible for a reward and punishment system to not work.  It's just that you don't like the results, because you didn't understand it.  The classic example is rewarding misbehavior with attention, causing it to increase;  the mistaken thought that the attention in the form of yelling at the kids is punishment instead of reward leads to the predictable but unfortunate results. 

Quote
My experience is that learning to train animals has been extremely useful in learning to deal with people  ;)

Yes, absolutely.  The response repertoire of humans is much richer, but the basic principles remain identical. 
Tim

Offline keypeg

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Re: Praise everything mentality
«Reply #40 on: November 09, 2013, 03:44:00 PM »
I would not agree.  Behavior (and that's intended as a broad term encompassing everything, not just misbehavior) is always shaped by reward and punishment, external and internal. 
We're writing this in the context of teaching students, and hopefully in the context of learning.  My views on this topic as a whole is shaped by my experience teaching.  Are you also writing in the context of teaching skills to students?  Or has this become an intellectual discussion.

In terms of learning - no - absolutely not!

Meanwhile, what about the simple concept I've tried to bring forth, which seems to be swallowed up time again, namely that:

- A student needs feedback on what s/he is doing right and wrong - how to do things - practical things that the student needs
- The feedback that says "This is correct" "This is close" "This thing that you are doing is giving good result x" may be a "positive" feedback, but above all it is informative and useful.  The student can do something with it.
- The feedback that says  "This is not correct - it is not going in the right direction" (so the student can adjust), "This incorrect thing is causing this problem to happen" - "You have this error, which is caused by x, which you can correct by doing Y" - this may be seen as "negative", but in fact it also is informative and useful.

Both of these things are empowering.

How about THESE ideas?

Offline momopi

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Re: Praise everything mentality
«Reply #41 on: November 10, 2013, 06:00:27 AM »
I am not a teacher and certainly not a piano whiz. But I have my share of having different teachers; maybe I can share to you what I think.

There are different kinds of students. But the goal is more or less the same: to be able to play well regardless of the level.

I had a teacher back in high school Teacher A). She was great for the early years but I felt like she wasn't correcting me enough. Playing a piece correctly once or twice during the lesson was not enough. I wanted to review past lessons once in a while in order as well. Getting perfect notes was not enough for me. I felt like we're studying pieces way beyond my level and my playing became mechanical. Yep, I read notes fast but we all know it's not all about notes.

After few years, I found another teacher (Teacher B). Actually, my family knew her but she doesn't accept students without a piano. I didn't have one when I was young. But now that I have (a very cheap) one, I mustered up the courage to call her up.

This teacher became and still is my favorite teacher. She knows how to motivate students. She knows how to criticize without being hurtful (that is constructively). On our third lesson (I kept a piano diary), she said, "Oh your fingers are like worms! Let's do some exercises to make your fingers better!" and I didn't get offended. I actually found it cute and I got excited about the new exercises we would do.  :D Like Teacher A, she was very organized and even more so. Even if we act buddy-buddy outside the lessons, during the lesson it was strictly piano. When I start to talk about other things (I have penchant for being random), she would said, "Think about that later and let's concentrate on your playing. She corrects me on the proper timing, proper posture, proper touch, and proper dynamics. She gives me good guidance but at the same time let me direct my own learning. When I told her to I wanted review a certain book I already finished studying long time ago, she didn't mind. Of course, she was far from complacent. If there is a weak area, we concentrate on that until it was good to go. This is what I really like because even if the piece is just a simple Grade 3 piece, we still treat it with respect and try to play it perfectly! Her philosophy is the same as mine: better to play something simple perfectly than play many difficult pieces incorrectly. She would also slightly hit (no pain) my hand if I try to play immediately after turning the page of the book. For her, it is important to read and analyze the score first before playing.

After the lessons, I would occasionally ask her to play for me. What I like about her playing is that even if it's piano or pianissimo, the notes are still very very clear and there is full control. Also, her piano is an amazing old Steinway and Sons. It's so much better than my second-hand cheap one so I was always excited to go there.

But there's a catch. She's already in her 80s and my last lesson with her was five years ago. I thought she was no longer teaching. So, I looked for another teacher.

Teacher C was the worst. She is a psycho. Before the first lesson, I told her I prefer weekends because I am usually out of town on weekdays. But no. She called and SMSd me asking me to be at her place on Monday so I could practice Hanon #1 for one hour.  :o On the first lesson she smacked the front and the back of my head for no reason except to demo how her parents and her previous teachers treated her.  :-X It was a traumatic experience for me because it was the first I really talked back to a teacher (I always had good relations with them) and said, "what the *** do you think you're doing?" It was also the first time I slap a teacher on the face. What was disturbing is that she didn't get angry. As if a person hitting her was normal. Because a normal teacher would throw out a student like that, right?

On the second lesson, We only played for 30 minutes (all scales and Hanon) and the next 30 minutes she just asked me what was the meaning of a married guy with three children saying hello and how are you. It was an old classmate of her whom she saw unexpectedly lately. I said, "It meant hello and how are you." She went on and on for thirty minutes about this guy. I wanted to play the piano so bad! Every time, I would play something she would ask me to stop so she could tell about this guy again. And guess what she follow me outside the gate and asked me, "so, what do you think of this guy?"  :-\

On the third lesson, she was excited. After playing for few minutes, she asked me to sit at the sofa and look at her graduation album while she practice on the piano. Wow, I didn't know I pay someone else in order to look at their picture. On the next lesson, I arrived, as usual, on time. She was practicing on the piano. She pretended to be concentrating while surreptitiously darting her crazy eyes on me, as if waiting for a compliment. 15 minutes have gone and she was still playing. Her mother came out and asked, "Why the heck are you the one playing there?" Finally, she stopped and I got a chance to sit in front of the piano! 15 minutes wasted, sigh.

Also, with the exception of Hanon, she always forgot about the other pieces and we would play something else. In short, no room for improvement. She's also wary of new material. She would deny the fact that she didn't know and just insist of the method and pieces her previous teacher used. (Her logic was, my teacher did this so it's correct. Obviously, she cannot think for herself.) Unlike Teacher B, if I want to learn a piece she has never played, she would admit it right away and would say, "Why don't we learn it together?"

Two more lessons (students are required to pay six lessons upon enrollment and there are no refunds) and it was over! Hallelujah. I called Teacher B again and asked her if she was still teaching. To my surprise, she welcomed me again. And I pray every day that she would live longer because a lot of people need her.

After having different teacher, I could say that what students need are:
1) Structure: the lessons have to have structure and direction.
2) Proper guidance without spoon feeding: the student has to learn how to think for him/herself.
3) Motivation: students are trying their best. If they are doing it right, tell them!
4) Constructive criticism for mistakes: nobody likes insincere compliments. Telling someone is good enough when it is not is doing both the teacher and student injustice. Don't forget that students want to be able to play well.
5) Proper technique and good interpretation: the teacher has to be conservatory-educated, preferably music teaching major.

Also, after having a psycho teacher, I realized what an underrated job teaching is! Not just in the field of music but in everything else. We tend to take this for granted. Other have the mentality that "those who don't, teach." Nothing is more insulting to the teaching profession. Teaching is a specific skill in itself. Motivating someone, making someone go beyond the limits of their ability and achieve results - these are not simple feats. Just because someone is an expert at something (this goes for other professions as well), doesn't they would be the perfect teacher. Geniuses may even be the worse for a beginners as they have no idea what ordinary people go through.

On a side note, I really felt bad about being disrespectful to the psycho teacher. At the last lesson, I gave her a little gift with a note saying I could no longer attend her lessons and thanked her for her time and effort. Perhaps, if mental illness were not such a stigma and her parents not so harsh, she would get proper treatment. I hope she will.

Offline timothy42b

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Re: Praise everything mentality
«Reply #42 on: November 11, 2013, 02:59:08 PM »
- A student needs feedback on what s/he is doing right and wrong - how to do things - practical things that the student needs
- The feedback that says "This is correct" "This is close" "This thing that you are doing is giving good result x" may be a "positive" feedback, but above all it is informative and useful.  The student can do something with it.
- The feedback that says  "This is not correct - it is not going in the right direction" (so the student can adjust), "This incorrect thing is causing this problem to happen" - "You have this error, which is caused by x, which you can correct by doing Y" - this may be seen as "negative", but in fact it also is informative and useful.

Sometimes you can be too insistent that a thread follows exactly your train of thought.  Just saying.

But specific to the feedback area, I think you're right but incomplete.

Back to behaviorism for a temporary detour.  Yes, it makes a very effective framework for managing classroom behavior, something experienced teachers do intuitively, but beginners struggle with.  I believe it has a more subtle effect I'll describe later. 

Feedback.  I conceptualize it like a basic control loop (engineering term).  We have a mental image of a desired outcome, we make an attempt to produce it, we compare the two, we calculate the error, and we introduce a correction.  (Thermostat is set to 70 F, house temperature is 65 F, error is -5 degrees, correction is turn on furnace.  More sophisticated systems can turn on furnace hotter for higher error (called P), can turn on the furnace hotter if the error has existed longer (I), can turn on the furnace hotter if the temperature is dropping faster (D)). 

When the student can detect the error themselves, learning is faster, because we know from the literature that the optimal time span is 0.8 seconds.  But that isn't always possible, and that's one reason we have teachers! 

We also need the reinforcement when the desired outcome is approached.  Again this is best when it is internal (student can hear it) but again the teacher is a necessary part. 

Remember that the teacher is present for only a tiny fraction of the total time playing, providing the student is actually practicing at home. 

Not all the correction or reinforcement is conscious or verbal on the part of the teacher.  It is impossible for an engaged teacher not to be pleased at success or frustrated with difficulty on the part of the student, and they do communicate some of this nonverbally through posture, body language, etc.  Students only receive a portion of this communication as they focus on their task, but it must be present. 

I suspect this is what makes the difference for the master teacher, the one with the same knowledge of correct mechanics and musical interpretation, who assigns basically the same course of study and makes the same verbal comments, but gains the reputation for consistently producing superior students. 

And what I think the master does differently is reinforce precursors, nonverbally and unconsciously.  I think if you ask them what they do they'll tell you they do the same thing the others do, and as far as they're aware, they do.  But there are many sub-steps along the way to correct motion, and they are responding to and reinforcing those. 
Tim

Offline keypeg

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Re: Praise everything mentality
«Reply #43 on: November 12, 2013, 12:10:56 AM »
The best and most complete answer resides in the post of momopi.  It contains everything. :)

Offline timothy42b

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Re: Praise everything mentality
«Reply #44 on: November 12, 2013, 01:20:36 PM »
The best and most complete answer resides in the post of momopi.  It contains everything. :)


Except she took six lessons with a nutcase.  I'd have demanded my money back after the first one.
Tim

Offline keypeg

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Re: Praise everything mentality
«Reply #45 on: November 12, 2013, 10:33:25 PM »
Except she took six lessons with a nutcase.  I'd have demanded my money back after the first one.
I am interested in the specific things she said helped her and were useful.  This should be useful information for teachers.  It is spot on.

Offline bernadette60614

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Re: Praise everything mentality
«Reply #46 on: November 16, 2013, 04:54:51 AM »
What is the goal of any teacher?  I would say to help a student achieve their full potential.

How do students achieve their full potential? Some respond to constant correction, others need encouragement,and still others may need more of a focus on positive reinforcement and a touch of correction.

As a parent, I see that some kids in our son's school need praise to feel good enough about themselves to event attempt an assignment (usually kids who have told how inept they are).  Others (our son being one), tends to look for ways to improve and is skeptical of anyone who praises him automatically.

I think the best teachers teach individual students, they don't apply one method wholesale.

(This being said...the best birthday gift I received this year was when my Russian trained teacher told me my Schubert was "acceptable".)

Offline echristensen

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Re: Praise everything mentality
«Reply #47 on: November 20, 2013, 09:38:07 PM »
I agree with a lot of this, but I also believe that some praise is necessary. The truth of the matter is is that most of our students, mine anyway, are playing for enrichment, enjoyment or recreational purposes. I certainly push those who have the drive but at the same time I don't want to isolate those students who may just be in this for enjoyment. 

Offline momopi

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Re: Praise everything mentality
«Reply #48 on: December 23, 2013, 04:37:50 AM »
I am interested in the specific things she said helped her and were useful.  This should be useful information for teachers.  It is spot on.

Thank you.  :)

But I am speaking as an adult late beginner/early intermediate student. Perhaps other students, particularly very young ones or much more mature ones, may have different needs and/or learning style. I think it is important for the learning style and the teaching style to match.

Offline rachmaninoff_forever

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Re: Praise everything mentality
«Reply #49 on: December 23, 2013, 04:52:26 AM »
I learned to play piano in the Russian school where the role of the teacher was very simple: teaching the students to play the instrument at the highest possible level. This didn't involve any elaborate relationships with the students or special approaches. I would get an assignment, go home and work on it, and come back to the lesson where the teacher would correct any mistakes.

As a teacher now, I find it very hard to understand why the teacher has to be the students' best friend or be their motivator. When did criticism of mistakes turn into the teacher giving students physical prizes such as candy? As a student, neither me nor any of my peers would ever take criticism of our mistakes personally. Why does a teacher have to praise a student for a sloppy performance in order to keep them motivated? If a student begins to dislike piano after a little constructive criticism, maybe the student never liked playing piano to begin with. If they enjoy playing piano, they will want criticism to improve their playing. Maybe the student who no longer enjoys piano after the teacher corrects their mistakes was only taking piano lessons because of all the praise the teacher would give them for tripping over the keys rather than the joy of making music.

In my opinion the praise everything mentality is a just another way we are spoiling our next generation. You can't improve your skills at something if you don't know what to fix and get showered with praise. Don't get me wrong, I am not encouraging physical punishment or yelling at the mis-performing students, but I believe that the teacher who buddies-up with the student and praises everything is doing them a great disservice.

Good!!!

We need more people to quit piano!

That means less competition for me!

ANYWAYS...  I would go to my lesson, and my teachers would be like this...  'Yo, this, this, and this is wrong.  This is how you fix it.  Now fix it'.  But we're still like really good friends!  You can be straight up with your student and still be friends you know!

Live large, die large.  Leave a giant coffin.