A Student’s Thoughts on Wikipedia

wikipedia-logoWhat follows is an article a student of mine wrote in the school newspaper. This echoes my feelings on Wikipedia and how it is viewed in education.

This school is giving Wikipedia a bad name. As a small child in ninth grade, I was convinced that the online self-edit encyclopedia was a bad website for information, because my research paper teacher told us so. For two years after, I had it worked out in my head that Wikipedia was the center of all lies. As it turns out, this is not true. That’s right, every teacher’s nightmare is about to come true because the truth is about to be exposed. Go onto any Wikipedia page and look near the bottom, you may notice the links citing information. Now call me crazy, but I don’t think if people were lying they would go so far as to make up a link with more false information. The biggest discovery happened over the summer. I was with my older sister and our neighbor changing around some Wikipedia pages for fun, because there was nothing else to do. For example, the best change was my sister taking the biography from Cuban revolutionary Che Guevara and pasting it into a new political beliefs section on the page for the popular television family, The Brady Bunch. After looking at the page again, the change was taken down within less than a minute. You see, the people at Wikipedia are really on top of their game, they know what they’re doing. Stop blocking that site and block stuff Amazon.com, as site where people can buy stuff from the computer lab.

25 Proven Methods for Ruining Your Child’s Music Education

I am re-posting this from Andy Zweibel‘s blog.  I found this amusing, and yet, at the same time, all too true!

This was an article referenced in a letter to the editor of the November 2008 issue of The Instrumentalist magazine. The article originally appeared in a 1951 issue of The Instrumentalist. I thought it was funny, so I’ll repost it here. No author is credited, so credit to The Instrumentalist as a whole, I suppose…

25 Proven Methods for Ruining Your Child’s Music Education

  1. Buy him the cheapest instrument possible so he can look forward to earning a better one.
  2. Always point out all his shortcomings; never praise. There’s no sense in spoiling him.
  3. Always call him for practice when the ball game is going best; call in a loud demanding voice so his friends will feel sorry for him.
  4. Insist he practice at a certain time each day without exception. Lay down the law. “Either you practice when I say, or you quit!”
  5. Insist he practice the most uninteresting music the longest. You can’t learn to play an instrument by playing tunes.
  6. Don’t invite other children over to play instruments with your child. They make too much noise, kill too much time, have too much fun, and track in too much dirt.
  7. be sure to mention at the dinner table how little your child has practiced each day.
  8. Never help him with his practicing. There is never time.
  9. Add another hour of practice when he misbehaves.
  10. Call loudly from the kitchen or basement every time he makes a mistake. Make jokes such as “Was that a sick cat I heard?” and “If you can’t do better than that, you should give up.”
  11. Stop him if he practices anything for fun other than his lesson. Music is serious.
  12. Threaten periodically to stop his lessons unless: (a) he practices much more, (b) he plays better than another student, (c) he takes better care of his instrument, (d) he gets beter grades, (e) he makes his bed each morning, (f) he treats his parents with more respect.
  13. Insist on perfection in everything connected with his music; 100% or its no good. He’ll appreciate this when he grows up.
  14. Don’t let him play for his friends or anybody else until he can really play the instrument well. After two or three years he’ll be able to surprise them.
  15. Catch him off guard the first time you want him to play for someone and ask him in front of everybody to play something. If he refuses, insis that he play; if he still refuses, announce that he’s through with music. By all means don’t help him select and work up a number to play for company.
  16. Rest your nerves after a hard day’s work by telling him not to practice where you can hear him. “Take that thing down to the basement. Don’t I deserve a little peace and quiet?”
  17. Insist that he take private lessons from the strictest, driest teacher in town.
  18. Be sure to point out his shortcomings often, especially in front of the teacher or fellow students. It will make a better impression then.
  19. Don’t take him to a concert until he’s old enough, and don’t take him unless he can play well enough to appreciate it.
  20. Insist he can’t take band or orchestra unless his grades improve in academic subjects. Band is just play.
  21. Insist that he take a foreign language in high school instead of band or orchestra.
  22. Don’t pay attention to his music making; you don’t care whether he practices.
  23. Use music as a wedge for getting other things done. Threaten to cut off his lessons if he doesn’t wash the dishes every night.
  24. Don’t buy him a good instrument until he plays extremely well. No sense in wasting money.
  25. With some parents, the real secret is to nag effectively and regularly. Others manage to ruin their child’s music-making by disregarding it almost completely.

It is not necessary to apply all 25. Usually one or two will do the job.

This American Life – Music Lessons

Someone forwarded this episode of “This American Life” from NPR to me, and I found it very entertaining as a music teacher.  Below is the description from the TAL website.  Click on “Full Episode” under the graphic to stream it.  Enjoy!

104: Music Lessons

What’s frustrating about music lessons, what’s miraculous about them, and what they actually teach us. This show was recorded in front of a live audience at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, with help from KQED-FM, during the ’98 Public Radio Conference in San Francisco.