Teachers helping teachers - A proposal

Talk with other teachers, exchange tips, participate in polls regarding a teaching studio business

Postby 112-1182392787 » Wed Apr 30, 2008 5:30 pm

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Edited By pianissimo on 1209605995
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Postby 112-1182392787 » Wed Apr 30, 2008 6:19 pm

Best wishes for the launching of this project. I am interested in seeing teacher input, since it involves them above all.
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Postby Dr. John Zeigler - PEP Ed » Thu May 01, 2008 7:51 am

pianissimo wrote:Best wishes for the launching of this project. I am interested in seeing teacher input, since it involves them above all.

Yes, I would like their comments, particularly in a couple areas: whether they, personally, would be willing to participate as both evaluated and evaluator, since both sides of participation are necessary to make sure the process remains as fair as possible, and what changes, if any, they think might need to be made in the "mechanics" of the process.

I have talked a little about the scientific review process. No doubt, people have long since realized that I'm a supporter of peer review. That said, let me point out that the peer review process in science is imperfect, precisely because it is mandatory and has real consequences. It's uncommon, but not rare, for some scientific reviewers to hold onto a paper for months when they see the paper is important. This allows them to go into their own labs, duplicate the results and rush them into print before the paper with actual priority is ever seen. Even though the papers carry submission dates, most scientists don't pay much attention to them. I've personally seen this type of abuse several times. Another problem is that some reviewers abuse the process by uniformly praising papers of collaborators (when they should simply refuse to review the papers out of conflict-of-interest considerations) and routinely trashing those of competitors. Eventually, journal editors figure this out and stop using those reviewers, but it takes some time. There are some other uncommon, but discomforting, problems that occur, precisely because scientists have something tangible to gain or lose in the process. Most scientists are honest and decent, but it only takes a few abusing peer review to shake confidence in it.

I hope that the one I've proposed for piano and music teachers eliminates those kinds of abuses by specifically making the process voluntary and private. The only benefit is better, more efficient, teaching and the only consequence is the time committed to doing it by the evaluators. Nobody can advertise the results for personal gain or misuse them to gain an advantage by making private information public.




Edited By Dr. John Zeigler - PEP Editor on 1209650042
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Postby 112-1182392787 » Sun May 04, 2008 7:58 pm

Well, I have since discovered that I am in the dark about what does exist presently and maybe assumed there was more than there is.

My questions stemmed more from what I have experienced in my studies and interactions, but it's a different instrument, not piano. As I understand it, the scientific system is relatively universal across the world.

But in music in the area I was involved, there would be a teaching process that was part of an entire system and made sense within that system and philosophy. Sometimes it belonged to a different part of the world and was also developed by an experienced teacher over decades. Another teaching system would function differently. Now, if you observe an element from the first system in isolation, and try to understand it through the lense of your own system, what you observe will seem wrong and incomprehensible. For such a case, if it also exists in piano, a teacher using an unfamiliar system would have to write up the philosophy behind it so that the reviewers could understand what they are seeing. This is the thought that has been in my mind.
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Postby Dr. John Zeigler - PEP Ed » Mon May 05, 2008 7:18 am

pianissimo wrote:As I understand it, the scientific system is relatively universal across the world.

But in music in the area I was involved, there would be a teaching process that was part of an entire system and made sense within that system and philosophy. Sometimes it belonged to a different part of the world and was also developed by an experienced teacher over decades. Another teaching system would function differently. Now, if you observe an element from the first system in isolation, and try to understand it through the lense of your own system, what you observe will seem wrong and incomprehensible. For such a case, if it also exists in piano, a teacher using an unfamiliar system would have to write up the philosophy behind it so that the reviewers could understand what they are seeing. This is the thought that has been in my mind.

Scientific peer review, to the extent that it is used, looks much the same the world over, just as you've indicated. I've used it as the paradigm for my proposal because it's time-tested and eminently successful. I have tried to eliminate some of the abuses that afflict the peer review process in science by removing all the incentives for abuse in my proposal for peer review of piano and music teachers. The proposal is tailored, as much as possible, to the experience of teaching and learning piano, while keeping intact the spirit behind scientific peer review.

Anyone who has any background in analytic philosophy knows that all of us interpret the world through the lenses of our own thinking processes and experiences. An extreme version of that is the now-discarded discipline of solipsism, in which its proponents argued that there is no independent reality outside the individual's perception of it. Solipsism is long-discarded because it meant that there was no point in understanding anything or having any particular views on any point. That was too big a pill to swallow for most philosophers and, of course, flies in the face of science, which proves that there are some laws and phenomena which are always independently observable, no matter who does the observing.

If we move away from the solipsistic viewpoint, we can acknowledge that, while people see things differently, there is some independent reality to the world. By understanding and using the viewpoints of many different people, we can begin to clarify our own beliefs and approaches and perhaps get a truer vision of reality.

Finally getting to the issue of the piano teaching peer review proposal, it's entirely possible that teachers will see things somewhat differently if they use different methods or feel differently about relative priorities in piano teaching. However, I would argue this is a strength of the proposal, in that it provides an incentive for different teachers to see what others are doing and understand how they feel about aspects of pedagogy. If the evaluated teacher doesn't like or can't use some comments in the evaluation because he/she sees things differently, he can ignore them without consequence. Yet, the teacher still gets the benefit of the thinking of people with different views. Those who serve as evaluators get similar benefits. All of this assumes that evaluated and evaluators take their roles seriously, but I don't see that as much of a problem since the process is voluntary in every respect.

Although I would still very much like to hear from teachers about the proposal, I have prepared a full article, which will appear in The Teaching Studio of PEP, on this proposal. The article fleshes out certain aspects of the process and looks at how the process might actually work in greater detail than we have discussed here. It will appear in the next upgrade of PEP.




Edited By Dr. John Zeigler - PEP Editor on 1209994121
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Postby 112-1182392787 » Thu May 08, 2008 5:40 am

Dr. Zeigler, I have read your article and I have also had a chance to talk to teachers about the current state of affairs. Your idea does seem to be a timely one. There also seem to be some efforts underway in certain areas and organizations that are in various states of formation. It would be hard to know what is happening internationally since each country might have a different situation.

There is one thing that I suggest be added, because of the variety of teaching methods and philosophies. Some of these have deep historical roots when they come from different countries. I have been fortunate in learning about some of these to some depth. Because of that exposure, it is my impression that in order for a teacher to be able to assess what he/she is seeing, he must have the context of the teaching philosophy behind it. The two teachers may have opposing values or the same values, but that is not the problem. The ultimate principles are the same because playing music is ultimately the same. But without understanding the system and philosophy within which the evaluated teacher is operating, the observing teacher will be limited to his own context. I could give specific examples but that is not necessary.

My suggestion is that the teacher to be evaluated write up a short paper of one or two pages outlining the teaching philosophy and method that they use, for the purpose of orienting the evaluating teachers in order to give them this context.

I have been subject to evaluation of my teaching by supervising teachers while I was practice teaching, specialists in learning disabilities to see whether my style was addressing the needs of all students, the school principle when it involved tenure, and the superintendent of schools. One-on-one teaching, which is what I am involved in now when I teach, is a different experience because one can be more responsive to individuals, and lessons can and should have a flexilibity that does not lend itself to classroom instruction. But there is still a learner and the one teaching it.
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Postby Dr. John Zeigler - PEP Ed » Thu May 08, 2008 7:32 am

pianissimo wrote:There is one thing that I suggest be added, because of the variety of teaching methods and philosophies. Some of these have deep historical roots when they come from different countries. I have been fortunate in learning about some of these to some depth. Because of that exposure, it is my impression that in order for a teacher to be able to assess what he/she is seeing, he must have the context of the teaching philosophy behind it. The two teachers may have opposing values or the same values, but that is not the problem. The ultimate principles are the same because playing music is ultimately the same. But without understanding the system and philosophy within which the evaluated teacher is operating, the observing teacher will be limited to his own context. I could give specific examples but that is not necessary.

My suggestion is that the teacher to be evaluated write up a short paper of one or two pages outlining the teaching philosophy and method that they use, for the purpose of orienting the evaluating teachers in order to give them this context.

I don't think there is anything wrong at all with the idea that the evaluated teacher write something to describe his/her teaching philosophy. There is nothing in the proposal that would prevent that from occurring. The problem is that doing so adds another barrier to actual implementation of the proposal. I have tried to keep it as simple and as teacher-driven as possible to remove as many barriers to implementation as I can. If the proposal isn't used, it won't matter much.

If there were any negative consequences (e.g. denial of a certification) as a result of the proposed process, I would think that a conflict of teacher values might be more important. However, the evaluated teacher is free to implement or ignore any suggestions made by the evaluators. As I have said in the article, to the extent teachers have different teaching philosophies, it could turn out to be a strength. Teachers who disagree on basic philosophy may, in the end, not accept each other's views, but may still learn things, precisely because the philosophies are so different. At a minimum, a disagreement in philosophy, treated with an open mind by both parties, will result in a greater understanding of piano teaching by both sets of teachers.

I don't know about how you feel, but I find I learn the most from people who disagree with me, and can discuss their position cogently. Even if, ultimately, I don't accept their position totally, I respect anyone who has a position and can defend it with rational arguments, rather than taking the "I say so" approach. I would hope that piano teachers could take a similar view when evaluated in such a process as the one I've proposed. They can only benefit by doing so, as the proposal indicates. :)




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Postby Dr. John Zeigler - PEP Ed » Fri May 09, 2008 8:05 am

pianissimo wrote:Dr. Zeigler, I have read your article and I have also had a chance to talk to teachers about the current state of affairs. Your idea does seem to be a timely one.

Since pianissimo has mentioned the article, let me provide the direct link for those who haven't seen it: Teachers Helping Teachers - A Proposal

I mentioned earlier that I have been unable to find anything similar to this proposal in current use. If anybody knows of something like it being used somewhere to help piano teachers, please post information about it here. Let us know how it's working, if you know. :)
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Postby Tranquillo » Fri May 09, 2008 8:09 pm

Dr. John Zeigler - PEP Editor wrote:
pianissimo wrote:Dr. Zeigler, I have read your article and I have also had a chance to talk to teachers about the current state of affairs. Your idea does seem to be a timely one.

Since pianissimo has mentioned the article, let me provide the direct link for those who haven't seen it: Teachers Helping Teachers - A Proposal

I mentioned earlier that I have been unable to find anything similar to this proposal in current use. If anybody knows of something like it being used somewhere to help piano teachers, please post information about it here. Let us know how it's working, if you know. :)

I've read it myself and I like the way you organise the form. This idea sounds like it would be effective with teachers and students giving evaluations ...

To my situation in the past it has been slightly different, when contemplating leaving a teacher I would re-evaulate and think closely of my goals, weather or not a teacher would be able to cater to such goals. I would discuss this with my teacher, I wouldnt do it once though, I would mention it several times and if they feel as though they arent adequate enough to assist me with my situation,or not do anything about it, I would then begin to talk to other teachers and see how they feel towards particular areas that I would like to discover. Some initially admit "I am probably not the right teacher for you" ... others say "I would be happy to give you names of other teachers."

By then, I feel like the teacher that I was taking lessons with would understand and see how they aren't the teacher for me ... when confronting and telling that I am ready to leave they would know the reason why ...

They are just a few things I have underwent ... I couldnt see myself putting it in writing and in a letter as that would be me merely repeating myself.
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Postby Dr. John Zeigler - PEP Ed » Thu May 15, 2008 10:53 am

Becibu wrote:
Dr. John Zeigler - PEP Editor wrote:Since pianissimo has mentioned the article, let me provide the direct link for those who haven't seen it: Teachers Helping Teachers - A Proposal

I mentioned earlier that I have been unable to find anything similar to this proposal in current use. If anybody knows of something like it being used somewhere to help piano teachers, please post information about it here. Let us know how it's working, if you know. :)

I've read it myself and I like the way you organise the form. This idea sounds like it would be effective with teachers and students giving evaluations ...

To my situation in the past it has been slightly different, when contemplating leaving a teacher I would re-evaulate and think closely of my goals, weather or not a teacher would be able to cater to such goals. I would discuss this with my teacher, I wouldnt do it once though, I would mention it several times and if they feel as though they arent adequate enough to assist me with my situation,or not do anything about it, I would then begin to talk to other teachers and see how they feel towards particular areas that I would like to discover. Some initially admit "I am probably not the right teacher for you" ... others say "I would be happy to give you names of other teachers."

Yes, I think it's important that the student be comfortable with the teacher's basic teaching philosophy and goals, as I've defined them here. If there is a conflict between the two in that area, it's hard to imagine how one could learn effectively from that teacher. That's not to say that the teacher is wrong. It just points out that the student and the teacher need to be headed to the same place and making the same basic assumptions.
All religions, arts and sciences are branches of the same tree. All these aspirations are directed toward ennobling man's life, lifting it from the sphere of mere physical existence and leading the individual towards freedom. - Albert Einstein
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Postby Tranquillo » Sun Aug 10, 2008 3:37 am

I wonder ... if its every a good idea that a student's past teacher should have any communication with the student's prospective teacher. When I see new teachers often then like to 'probe' by brain and assess my situation ... sometimes they are confused to what the last teacher taught me and where I am up to. Any thoughts?
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Postby Dr. John Zeigler - PEP Ed » Sun Aug 10, 2008 12:08 pm

Becibu wrote:I wonder ... if its every a good idea that a student's past teacher should have any communication with the student's prospective teacher. When I see new teachers often then like to 'probe' by brain and assess my situation ... sometimes they are confused to what the last teacher taught me and where I am up to. Any thoughts?

Teachers often communicate with one another regarding past students. There are all kinds of good reasons - and a few bad - for doing so. Usually, when a prospective teacher asks probing questions, it's because they're trying to determine if the student is serious about piano and lessons. Few teachers are so jaded that they only care about the money; they want to see their students succeed. The more serious the student is, the more likely he is to be successful.

As we've discussed in another thread, one teacher's teaching can appear confusing or even "wrong" to another teacher who teaches differently. That's one of the strengths of this proposal; it encourages teachers to learn about and develop an appreciation for other approaches.
All religions, arts and sciences are branches of the same tree. All these aspirations are directed toward ennobling man's life, lifting it from the sphere of mere physical existence and leading the individual towards freedom. - Albert Einstein
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