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Suzuki violin

I think I learned more about teaching and learning from my training as a Suzuki violin teacher than from anything else I have studied. I first encountered this method as a traditional teacher who took a pair of students who had just moved to town from a big established Suzuki program elsewhere. It astounded me that the mother came to the lesson and wrote down everything I said. They treated each bit of instruction as a gold nugget and got very excited about my suggestions. The following week they showed up having mastered every bit of what I had assigned and were hungry for more. Normal students were nothing like that, in my experience. This family knew how to learn and somehow they had been taught to learn this way. I was fascinated and decided to learn more about the method. I took teacher training through book four and when I used it in my studio teaching the results were amazing. I learned SO much about how children learn and the importance of play, imitation, preview and review and so very many other things. This happened thirty years ago and I have done a lot of stuff in education since

Dinosaurs

When I was in third grade, I became fascinated with dinosaurs. Woolworth’s used to sell small, rubber triceratops, tyrannosaurs, pterodactyls and all the rest, complete with names, sizes, and sometimes their prehistoric era on the bottom. Every time we got near the store, I was begging my Mom or Dad for one more to add to my collection. I checked out every book in our small town library on dinosaurs, paleontology, Roy Chapman Andrews, etc. I followed every lead and link suggested, so soon I knew about the eras and epochs — Jurassic and Cretaceous, I knew about the LaBrea tar pits and the early, giant mammals trapped therein, I knew about excavation techniques, and I knew where and why dinosaur fossils were most likely to be found. I presented my hobby as a “learning project” in third grade, stunning the teacher with my knowledge sufficiently that she invited in the Superintendent to watch me do it again. I went to other classrooms to present – some kids wanted to have certain ones “fight” each other in their rubbery glory, but I would clarify and point out that the mastodon and the allosaurus lived in different time periods and probably

Mrs. Franks’ House

When I was about 5 years old I was at a neighbor’s house who opened her home to serves as a babysitter. There were always lots of kids of all ages at Mrs. Franks’ and it was a chaotic but happy, play-driven atmosphere. My mom had dropped me off after school while she ran some errands. I was sitting at the dining room table drawing a picture and coloring. There was one other boy coloring, too. I was very eager to have some recognition for my picture, as Mrs. Franks came into the room, and was contemplating asking for her to come look. But from either shyness or insecurity or divine intervention I did not say anything. The other little boy was jumping up and down saying “come look at what I did, come look at my picture,” and generally being a pest, demanding his due attention. Mrs. Franks finally looked at his picture, but said to him, “look at how nice and quiet and polite and patient Andrea is over there, and her picture is just as worth looking at as yours. You could learn something from her.” It’s a powerful lesson I have never forgotten and has molded

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