Parent Teacher Adversaries? Part II

Parent Teacher Adversaries? Part IIIn my last post I explained how it was suggested by our elementary school coordinator that because of an unspecified “problem” we return forever the violins we received as part of a music grant.  I found this pretty galling.  Well, it seems my calling the principal, a congenial fellow, and making a civil and compelling argument against this was enough to solve said problem.  Our violin program remains intact.  Reasonable people attain reasonable results… I thought.  I had also learned that we were losing our 3rd, 4th and 5th grade instrumental instruction.  Many, many parents were absolutely horrified by this and so I posed the question, how much say do parents have in the machinations of public schooling?

As PTA president, I go to meetings.  Having mentioned to our vice-principal that the parents were concerned that we were losing instrumental music, I was invited to the elementary teachers’ meeting where all would be explained.  It was held in the kindergarten classroom meaning that a group of adults was forced to sit on tiny, tiny plastic chairs, our buttocks spilling over the edges.  There I learned that not only do I need to do more squats, but also instrumental instruction would be replaced with choral instruction.  This was a unanimous decision by the teachers and our principal supported their decision.  He should support his teachers.  I support our teachers, except on this occasion.  I am extremely prejudiced in favor of instrumental instruction and find it a piteous loss.

There is something entirely distinct about learning an instrument.  Firstly there is your individual relationship with a musical instrument and then there is the collaborative process of being part of a band or orchestra.  A dedicated musician appreciates the craftsmanship that went into making their instrument.  They practice and they improve.  They are given first chair in orchestra and play solos.  A slacker musician learns that unless you practice, yes, you will remain just that crap.  As part of an orchestra the slacker learns how to hide behind someone more proficient, and hence learns early how the business world works.  Alternately, in a choir you learn some Beatles songs and not to stand next to the kid that farts.  My children will be denied these valuable learning opportunities.  And why?  Well it turns out the music teacher was unbending.  The teachers had yielded and grown tired of it.  Then I learned from the music teacher that blah, blah, blah.  Oh who cares?  I simply know that children who were learning the trombone and trumpet and viola are now suddenly not.  Children who were waiting until 3rd grade to learn an instrument will instead have to learn patience.  All because of personality problems. What can parents do about this?  I don’t know.  Sadly you can’t parent your teachers and cut off television and perks until they’ve worked it out.  But they are teaching our children an incredibly valuable lesson, one that should definitely be on the California Standards:  sometimes life just sucks.

Photo by Mark Hillary

Moira, who lives in the Los Angeles area, is a graduate of the University of London and Central School of Speech in Drama, with a degree in English and Drama. She is a voice-over artist, comedienne a ...read more

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