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I think something about this idea as an axiom for work and life was always there for me. When I was a child my father admonished me many times to do my best. I remember him saying to me on numerous occasions “Be the best at whatever it is you choose to do. It doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you are the best at it. If you decide to be a garbage man, then be the best garbage man!” It made a strong impression on me as a young child, and I am sure had numerous (foreseen and unforeseen) consequences for the course of my life.
I’m thrilled to share here that my column Off The Podium made its first appearance this week in the October 2016 issue of Choral Director magazine. Off The Podium will be a regular component of Choral Director going forward, featuring the kinds of articles about music education I have been posting here on my blog since March 2015.
And as if this weren’t sweet enough: to launch my column with a splash, I am also featured on the cover!
When I read education articles or discussions of education practices on the internet, a theme that I constantly encounter is classroom management and discipline. Current trends in behavior modification theories and practices have promoted a widespread use of reward systems for social (as opposed to anti-social) behavior that is at odds with my own beliefs about education.
In 1998, our four-year old son was enrolled in a preschool program, and we learned from him one afternoon that at his (church sponsored) preschool they were paying the children for good behavior in play money and on Fridays, allowing the children who had accumulated some “cash” to spend it on toys or candy from the “store”.
My wife and I were shocked at what I still regard as a deeply cynical approach to the education of young children, and withdrew our son from that program immediately.