Why vs. What

R – Too much lip service is given to music teachers’ philosophy of doing what they do. It’s P.C. to ask “what do you do”, but it’s viewed as confrontational to ask, “why do you do that?”. And that’s a shame. Because growth doesn’t come from doing different “whats”. Different doesn’t equal better, better equals better. One of my favorite quotes, and I’ve used it often, is from Lindsey Buckingham: “If you’re any good at all, you know you can be better”. I’d submit the following premise: if that’s true, and I believe it is, then you can’t get better by looking at the what, you can only do so by looking at the why. Only when you’ve answered that do you have a reference point to look at what you do, analyze the effectiveness of what you do (how can you do so if you haven’t articulated why you even do it?) and see changes you can make to improve your teaching, your program. Your student outcomes. Micro: “why am I still doing this lesson plan the way I did 5 years ago?” Micro/Macro: “why do I still teach this course instead of replacing it with a different one?” Macro: “why am I teaching in this school, and why is my position educationally essential to the students in it?”

Notice one thing. NONE of these question what one does, they question why they do it. And once a complete understanding has been reached on any of these items, the answer may steer you in the precise, exact same direction as you’ve been going. And that’s cool(!) if that’s the case because it reinforces the value of what you do! Wouldn’t it be a shame though, never to ask those questions on a regular basis and fail to see one or more areas that deserve a second look?

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One Response to Why vs. What

  1. Pingback: reading books: philosophical foundation (why) | Goober Music Teachers

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