Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Learned Helplessness vs. Self-Efficacy

The following video is not about teaching piano, and yet, it is about teaching piano. Some high school students, in less than 5 minutes, were tricked into believing that they were not competent enough to do an easy task. You don't have to watch the whole video to get the point, although you might find it interesting. A big part of the lesson has to do with social pressures, but it also has to do with the feeling of "I'll never succeed at this, so it isn't worth trying." Just watch.

How do you relate this video to teaching piano? Often, when I introduce a new piece to a student, I start with the hardest parts and try to offer strategies for practicing. I'm always feeling the press of our limited time, and I want the student to leave the studio feeling as though they have a game plan. Now, I'm thinking that it might be a great use of even limited time to take a moment to celebrate the parts of a new piece that are easy. "Look what you're able to do now as a result of all your hard work so far! There are parts of this piece that you can already play! There are parts that will be challenging, but we know from our study so far that your effort will pay off." I think that one of the biggest deterrents to practicing is the belief that it won't produce results. Taking opportunities to point out the positive effects of practice is always a good use of lesson time. What do you think this video can teach us about teaching piano?  (hat tip:  teachermum)

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Heidi said...

I love how you applied this to piano. I tend to introduce the challenging parts first too, but I think I'll try changing that up a bit. Last week I started a lesson with a note naming race with a student who seems to be lacking a little motivation. She surprised me (and herself) and easily aced the race and was so much more positive and enthusiasm during the rest of the lesson. This video got me thinking that I should give my students more opportunities to show off the things they are good at instead of getting stuck in the rut of focussing on where they need to improve.

Jennifer said...

Thanks for sharing this. I'm sure we all have felt this way at one time or another, what a great reminder. I love how you put this spin regarding piano lessons. This is definitely something I will need to keep in mind when working with my students.

Willow said...

This was a great video, so glad I found your post! As a teacher it was fascinating, and I know that I've seen this in the classroom countless times (both as a student with my peers and a teacher with students). As a musician, I know I've felt this way. For me it was dealing with nerves in a recital/jury setting. When you let your nerves get to you once and things fall to pieces it's sooo much harder to get back up there and try again! Thanks for the video! :)

stace said...

Very interesting!! Thanks for sharing this--great food for thought.