Children's programs take themselves too seriously - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 11 Old 02-05-2003, 01:43 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I've taken swimming, music, and painting classes and gone to library story time with my dd (she's just over 2) for over a year now and one thing that has always kind of bugged me is the way the teachers in these classes often seem to take their "subject" just a little too seriously.
Maybe this is where I'm different from most people, but I really only go to these classes to get out of the house and have a good time. I'm not honestly trying to turn my daughter into a swimming, painting, reading, musical prodigy! But I'm given intructions in many of the classes in how to augment the "material" at home and today in her music class her teacher had the (I think!) audacity to tell the parents what he "expected" them to do at home to create a musical environment. And the class came with a booklet that was almost funny in it's tone - as if being musical is a life and death matter and we MUST see to it that our child is properly exposed. And I'm supposed to shower her instead of bathing and work with her arm strokes (for heaven's sake!) every night so she'll ... what? And I'm to read to her x amount a day every day OR ELSE!! .. what? And there is a proper way to read to her - I'm to point at the pictures until she is 3 and then I am to change tactics and run my fingers along the words. And I'm to offer my dd plenty of art medium - but it has to be just the right kinds and done just the right way. I just think it's all a bit much! All the points are well and good - but just give me a friendly flyer and lighten up a little bit!
I guess the teachers just seem a little hysterical about "exposing" children to certain things and "reinforcing" that experience. I have absolutely no doubt, and my daughter has shown this to be true, that what she wants and needs to learn she will learn! It takes some of the fun out of the class when it becomes a "class" - like we have homework or something! I mean these "classes" are for tots!! And they are fun, which is why we still take some of them ... but I don't know - I just find some of the attitude a little more than annoying. Does anyone else?
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#2 of 11 Old 02-05-2003, 03:04 AM
 
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I agree with you completely. Kids will learn, we don't really need to 'teach'. ANd they're just kids, let them have fun!
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#3 of 11 Old 02-05-2003, 03:36 AM
 
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and with other moms who are competitive......

not a good mix....
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#4 of 11 Old 02-05-2003, 01:54 PM
 
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I hear you. I found that music classes in particular are that way. However, not to play devil's advocate (or maybe I am!) but I have to say that I enrolled my DD in a ballet class when she was 2 and I had a lot of mixed feelings because the ballerinas teaching took it very seriously. After all, I just wanted to take pictures of her in her pink tutu! But I must say that I saw a remarkable improvement in my DD's ability to listen to directions and sit in a circle with the other kids, two things that she was not so good at before the class. And she wasn't doing it out of "fear", she was doing it because she genuinely enjoyed it! I decided after that that maybe there was something to be said for the more serious environment.

I also wanted to add that I think a lot of why these teachers take themselves so seriously is that the parents are paying a lot of money for these classes and maybe they want them to feel they are getting their money's worth? Just a thought.

But I do agree with you. I think that it can get pretty ridiculous.

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#5 of 11 Old 02-06-2003, 02:00 AM
 
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I think the thing about a "serious environment" is that it has to have the kind of thing that the particular child finds engaging. My daughter was also completely enthralled with her very serious dance class because it addressed the kinds of things she thought were important when she was three: they sat around in a circle and each girl got to describe the colour of bird she wanted to be and then act it out. My almost five year old son is crazy for hockey and at the end of each of his skating sessions he gets to be a goalie for ten minutes... he thinks he plays in a better league than the NHL. Now my kids are in skiing lessons and they truly believe that they can ski as well as my husband, who is very, very good.

I don't mind the programs having a serious element to them. What I mind is when I see children in the wrong program (my daughter in hockey or my son in ballet) because it is on the parent's agenda, not the kids'.
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#6 of 11 Old 02-06-2003, 02:21 AM
 
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Most artists feel a responsibility to protect the integrity of their profession too. I'm a professional musician. I find I have to balance my own passion for my field and my own desire that my children (and everyone else's) would get the very best exposure possible with my belief in allowing children to be children and in allowing them to explore different avenues at their own pace. I think a teacher has a responsibility to be passionate and to hold to certain standards in whatever it is they are teaching. My son's only six months old, but I'm very particular about the kind of musical environment that I'm creating in my home. I don't expect him to be a musician, but if by chance he does want to be one someday, I want to have provided the best start that I can. A really good, "serious" teacher can make or break even a young child's experience.

I think it's the parent's responsibility to filter the teacher's aims and goals in accordance with the needs of their own family. But it's the teacher's responsibility to be as thorough and as devoted to the cause as possible--they're supposed to be the expert in their subject. If I were teaching such a class, I'd be the same way, trying to give parents every possible help in creating the ideal environment--but I wouldn't actually expect parents to do everything I said. I'd leave that up to them.

Of course, teachers having unrealistic age-related expectations of children is certainly not appropriate, even for a professional.
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#7 of 11 Old 02-06-2003, 02:22 AM
 
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My daughter is one who enjoys the serious element (and she's just over 2!). She has no patience with watered down play activites when she has her mind set to learn something. At a recent class at the zoo, she refused to take part in the craft activites b/c she wanted to hear "more about the animals". More than once, I've gotten the "keep quiet" lookwhen I've had the nerve to whisper something to another parent during one of her music classes, thereby distracting her (my husband gives me this look too, I think it must be genetic). Me, I would rather she would lighten up, but she is who she is. And she does like the seriousness of many of these classes.
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#8 of 11 Old 02-06-2003, 07:21 AM
 
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We (briefly) were in a dance class for 18 month thru 2.5 year olds. The teacher made several comments about keeping kids on track and I always felt they were directed at me b/c while everyone else walked in a circle, my DD would wander all around exploring. When other kids dutifully got up to march or whatever, my DD would want to nurse for long periods. It got to the point where she told us that by 18 months we should do like she did and put our kids down and force them to do some activity for x amount of time. She said something like, "they'll cry and they'll beg for you, but you have to be firm or they'll never become independent." It's one thing to BE an utter moron, but it's another to force your lack of wisdom on people who just wanted a freakin' dance class to take their child to. We went maybe once after that, then I conveniently found excuses to miss the next ~8 weeks. I should have demanded my money back but it was only $34 dollars so it didn't seem worth it to try to explain to the center why that was unacceptable.

However, we are in a Music Together class that is wonderful. The teacher takes it seriously but I don't think she is over the top. She does keep things moving along in that Kindergarten teacher sort of firm kindness, but I think that's probably a good thing with so many kids. She encourages us to include music in our daily lives, but that seems appropriate for people of any age, and there is no prodigy-making mentality at all. I feel she runs a great class.

Carol
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#9 of 11 Old 02-07-2003, 02:35 AM
 
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ellasmama, where in Oregon do you take Music together? I'd like to go. That was my and dd's favorite class but we did it in CA when she was tiny
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#10 of 11 Old 02-07-2003, 03:27 AM
 
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mamitorres, our class is on the West side of Portland, at the Catlin Gabel school. The class is not really offered through the school, it's just taught there by one of their teachers during her "off" times. Her name is Molly Beiningen and she also teaches at her house, in Milwaukie. She has a website at www.musicseeds.com. Let me know if you would like more info. I also know people who take a MT class in Hillsboro but don't know anything else about that one.

Carol
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#11 of 11 Old 02-08-2003, 05:13 PM
 
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thanks carol, i was hoping it was in eugene
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