The adult student lecture

If you are an adult and you have studied for me I have given you the adult student lecture. That is actually what I call it. Here are the circumstances where I will sit you down and stop whatever it is we are working on. I don’t like to lecture students but this one is important. If you are planning to study for me and you were an adult just go ahead and read this now and get it memorized ready? Here it comes!

The circumstances in which I will stop whatever it is you’re doing and give you the following lecture are as follows

1. You are an adult student

2. You are a beginner

3. You are feeling unsure of yourself

If these criteria apply, just get ready here comes

I usually give this speech when an adult student begins such phrases as “I am just letting you know I really suck at this “or “I’m not going to be your best student “. Self deprecating or self defeating language like this is going to hold you back and I am here to tell you right now that we have to cut through that right away. I’m also going to tell you that my kids don’t usually use this kind of self criticism. This is a kind of behavior that is exclusive primarily to adults who are learning to play for the first time.

Number one, I realize that adults who are learning something new are very vulnerable. I have taught engineers, investment bankers, insurance agents, construction workers, police officers, military personnel, parents, grandparents, and even other teachers. The commonality is that they are no longer children but grown adults. They are however, like children in their vulnerability.

This is what I generally say when they start putting themselves down.

Children are conditioned to believe the things that adults tell them. If you tell a child, as an authority figure, that they are doing a good job at a task, they are less likely to question it. They generally believe what the teachers tell them. That is the kind of learner that a child is. They are much more impressionable than adults. As an adult you have had to learn to make decisions about your life and about the life of your family and you’ve had to learn to stand by those decisions. You are no longer as impressionable as she wants were. This is a good thing and a bad thing. As a confidant adult you have been the one to make decisions. The problem is that now you have placed yourself in my hands for this afternoon. You now have to give up the habit of being the confidence of decision maker and now you have to trust me. I am asking you to trust me to be honest with you. I’m not going to do it in a hurtful way. I am going to tell you when you’re doing well add a task and when you need work. As a confidant adult you have been the one to make decisions. The problem is that now you have placed yourself in my hands for this afternoon. I am now asking you to trust me to be honest with you. I want you to be able to learn to play and the only way I’m going to be able to do that is to sometimes be critical. I will not do that in a hurtful way but I will tell you the truth. If you need work I will say so. I will also tell you when you are doing well. I am afraid that it’s going to be easier for you to believe the bad stuff then it is the good. I can promise you that when I tell you you’re doing well I mean it. I promise you one thing, I will not blow smoke at you. I will always be honest and I want you to trust me

OK, that’s the end of the speech. What’s really unfortunate is that I have to sit adults down and have this peptalk with them. I think the reason for this is because when we grow up we stop being the impressionable trusting minds that we once were as children. Because of work and worry we have to make decisions. When we are counted upon by our loved ones to make important decisions, we often have to lose our impressionability and stand firm in the face of that decision. What that often translates into is someone who no longer feels comfortable accepting advice from others. These people are now called upon to be the ones to advise. The sad fact is that this turns into the syndrome of feeling like you are too old to learn. This feeling is precisely why learning a new skill or task is very important. It reminds us to embrace that youthful enthusiasm for learning. That kind of learning will prove to be a very healthy thing as we age. That is, in a nutshell, white people say that learning a new musical instrument or an art form or a new language is a good thing as we get older. It opens up our minds the way our minds used to be open when we were younger. I am going to conclude this blog post with a simple thought. As we age, we have to do things to keep our mind young. Find ways to do this. As Miyamoto Musashi once said, “you must research this well “

4 thoughts on “The adult student lecture

  1. That reminds me of writers’ groups when new and not so new writers introduce the piece they are about to read out with a list of self deprecating remarks. ‘I’m afraid it’s not very good – I wrote this at half past midnight – this is just the first draft’ or even ‘I’m afaid this is completely rubbish.’ The exasperated tutor then has to say – ‘Just get on and read it so we can judge for ourselves.’

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes it’s precisely like that. The fact is there is a vulnerability there. We as experienced members of that community whether it’s music or otherwise have to be patient with the newcomer. It takes a lot of guts for them to even come to the writers group or come and expose the fact that they don’t know anything about writing or music or whatever to another soul. There was one thing that someone wants told me the first time I went out performing in public and that was never ever apologize for your performance

      Liked by 1 person

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