Monday, October 12, 2009

Suzuki Golf?

There's a famous violin teaching philosophy, which I just learned about, called the Suzuki Method:

... an educational philosophy which strives to create "high ability" and beautiful character in its students through a nurturing environment. Its primary vehicle for achieving this is music education on a specific instrument (often violin or piano, but see below for a more complete list). The 'nurture' involved in the movement is modeled on a concept of early childhood education that focuses on factors which Shinichi Suzuki observed in native language acquisition, such as immersion, encouragement, small steps, and an unforced timetable for learning material based on each person's developmental readiness to imitate examples, internalize principles, and contribute novel ideas.

The way I heard it described is this:

When your kids are small, YOU play the violin in their presence, often. By merely observing the parent, their natural curiosity and natural urge to imitiate will develop. Then, one day trot out a *special* little violin for them, put it in their anxious fingers, and play simple notes that they can try to reproduce.

Obviously, this is an *immersion* approach. AND, it's also notable for its lack of formality and coercion.

One might even argue that it's homeschooling or unschooling for music!

And I'd be inclined to agree with them.

Now, obviously if you yourself don't play an instrument, this path of instruction is not available.

My wife and I are musically illiterate, so we are going to have to go into our pockets and outsource this subject.

BUT, I do play golf.

Last week or so, my son followed me into the backyard and expressed an interest in hitting some golf balls. Even though I hit 50 yard wedges back and forth almost everyday (of our 7 month golf season), and even though I have a few junior clubs that my kids can hit, I have never pushed this sport on them. Why not? Why wouldn't I encourage them to play what I think is the best game sport on Earth?

I don't know. Generally speaking I have sort of turned angrily against sports - after I added up how much of my life I had wasted on it.

Also, golf is a tough, often infuriating, game that requires some degree of maturity. Almost every kid I knew growing up who played golf, almost every single one of them quit by age 18 and rarely touches a club at all now. One of the great things about golf is that it can be enjoyed for a lifetime so I'd really hate to ruin my kids for it.

PLUS, golf is my sanctuary! It's where I go to get away from the tedium of my daily resposibilities. I don't need my kids out there on the course, at the driving range. The only thing worse would be teaching Mrs. C-Nut how to play. AND, if she did ask, I'd sabotage the process by giving her enough poor instruction to doom her to failure.

So anyway, I lined up the balls for the Prince last week; and he was finally able to smack the 7-iron high up into the air a good ways. I was ecstatic about the joy he took in his accomplishment more than the result. For a 4.88 year old, he's by no means a golf prodigy. I've seen many kids his age who were much, much better. But can they do long division?

I really think this Suzuki or whatever approach is worth contemplation because kids are big-time mimics.

How could you ever get your child to be a voracious reader if they don't witness you reading tons of books?

How could you ever get your child to be creative or a risk-taker if they never see mom and dad dabbling and experimenting in their own lives?

How could a kid be raised with a moral conscience if their parents never perform visible acts of charity?

And so on...


Anonymous said...

I am a product of the Suzuki method which resulted in starting violin lessons at age three and being required to continue until I graduated from high school. It did give me a leg up on the other students who didn't start until 6th grade. Disadvantages-countless hours of practicing when I would have been doing something more practical. I don't play too much anymore.

CaptiousNut said...

But the *being required* that kosher with the Suzuki philosophy?

You sound young - hopefully you'll get back to the violin one way or another. Perhaps, even by teaching your own kids?

Anonymous said...

The required part was the parents who had no musical background prior to starting myself and my siblings. In the Suzuki method most kids start at a young age. In only actually know of a few that turned to music as a career choice. I do have a 4yr old and a soon to be 2yr old and have not started them yet. I'm still up in the air over the time factor involved and the end benefit of the entire process.