Who should decide whether DC learns instrument?

(91 Posts)
GetStuffezd Mon 23-Sep-13 21:58:08

I teach in a Junior School. Recently we had a brass band in and, subsequently, letters were sent out to children (in lower years, who I don't teach) who were interested in learning a brass instrument. Obviously there were limited places so my colleague asked all the children who was interested in learning X,Y or Z and letters were given to those who expressed interest.

Friend has now had complaints from a couple of parents who are unhappy they weren't given the letters. Friend maintains the children weren't interested in learning, so what was the point of giving them the letter? I think I agree.
How would you feel if it were your child?

carolmillen Mon 23-Sep-13 22:01:49

I think all parents should have been given the letters.

morethanpotatoprints Mon 23-Sep-13 22:03:40

I think all communication should be given to the parents, they should ask their dc. It could open a conversation of no mum/dad I don't want to play a brass instrument but I'd like to play violin.

GetStuffezd Mon 23-Sep-13 22:03:52

Can I ask why, carol? I'm not disagreeing - but we discussed this in the staffroom and not one person thought giving all parents letters as the right option. I don't have DC so maybe I'd feel differently if I did - but at the same time, if my child expressed no interest in an activity, why should I put them forward for it?

hels71 Mon 23-Sep-13 22:04:44

I would send a letter to every child that was eligible. Parents should know what is available. Some children may say they are not interested because they think parents can not afford it or would not like it. Some may think at the time they are not interested but after chats at home might be. There just needs to be a system in place for allocating places if they are over subscribed.

GetStuffezd Mon 23-Sep-13 22:04:51

Fair point, morethan. At least that way I suppose all parents know the lessons do actually take place.

carolmillen Mon 23-Sep-13 22:07:00

I think that certain children won't put themselves forward, particularly in a group or if one of their friends doesn't show an interest but might do so if asked by their parents at home.

Also, even if a child shows an interest, it doesn't mean that their parents would be happy to support that (e.g if it means a time commitment or extra money).

ZZZenagain Mon 23-Sep-13 22:07:17

I also think the letters should have gone out to all the parents. It is for the parents to discuss with their dc whether they should take up an instrument.

sittinginthesun Mon 23-Sep-13 22:08:54

The system at our school seems to be a letter to all parents, and first come first serve on places.

Those who are very keen are often waiting by the school office door the next morning.

GetStuffezd Mon 23-Sep-13 22:09:34

Actually, I will say I think my opinion is at least partly formed by having to be the kid who was "encouraged" to play violin for years despite loathing it!!
Reading with interest.

partybags Mon 23-Sep-13 22:11:50

letters should have gone to all parents.

my own dd didn't want to learn the cello when it was offered at school. we chatted a bit at home about making the most of opportunities, and she is now in her 4th year of learning, and loving it.

some children aren't the best at speaking up in group situations, or may follow their friends' example, or give in to peer pressure, etc.

parents can't support and encourage if they don't know what opportunities exist.

applebread Mon 23-Sep-13 22:14:54

Letters to all parents. Some kids won't push themselves forward in a situation like this. Even if a child isn't desperate to learn trombone a year or two of music lessons may do them tge world of good broadening horizons and developing work ethic.

MirandaWest Mon 23-Sep-13 22:16:03

There was a similar thing at my DCs school - the brass teacher from the local music service came in and did an assembly. There was an email sent to everyone explaining about the music service and saying that lessons were available and explaining the procedure. I think that was the right way to do it.

AbbyR1973 Mon 23-Sep-13 22:17:31

I agree that I think parents should be asked for the reasons stated by others but also because some children might be interested by too shy/ inhibited to express their interest, or who feel anxious about trying something new but would still be interested. Parents are best placed to have these discussions with their children.

DeWe Mon 23-Sep-13 22:24:50

I think all children should have been given them. Dd1 at one point was in a class asked if they wanted to do something. She didn't put up her hand because she was afraid someone would laugh at her for wanting to do it. She was very upset (and would have benefitted from doing it too). because she then wasn't eligible.
My sister often missed out on that sort of thing because she assumed (often wrongly) that my dp wouldn't want her doing it. She used to get frustrated when I started doing it because she'd never asked.

Anyway, sometimes I can enthuse one of my dc into doing something that they know little about. If my dc brought home a letter like that and I thought they might enjoy it, I'd show them some youtube of players, talk about marching bands, show them how it works.

If you just say "those who are interested in XYZ" well some of the children may not know what it entails.

And in addition, I was one of a group of 5 children chosen from my year to learn (free) violin. We were auditioned if we wanted to and the music teacher and form teacher discussed who would be chosen. I heard the conversation and I was very much the last choice...

In my group: I continued to grade 5 level at age 16, did grade 2 after learning for 5 terms.
Child A: Gave up at 11 when he moved school as next school only had a band not orchestra and he wanted to be in the band. Was looking at doing grade 1 after 2 years, but didn't want to as he was giving it up anyway.
Child B: Practiced sometimes, but had gym 5 days a week and didn't really have time.
Child C: Took the violin home and occasionally practiced.
Child D: Never even bothered to take her violin home after the first week. Was totally open about the fact that she had only wanted to be chosen to do it to lord over everyone and didn't really want to do the actual playing.
Child B, C and D gave up after 4-6 terms.

This was the cream of the children who had wanted to do it, parents had no say in the audition-it came totally out of the blue.

Bumpstarter Mon 23-Sep-13 22:40:52

Whether or not the teachers really explained what it meant to learn the instrument (The opportunities that would be available later, the amount of practise needed to get any good, the kind of music they would play, the way the teacher was going to teach it etc etc etc,) if the parents do not know about the opportunity they might, justifiably, suspect that their child may not have made an informed decision about it.

Allowing the parents to participate in the process may mean different kids end up choosing to put their name down. I can see why the teachers thought it fair. But I do wonder if they really explained to the kids what taking or refusing the opportunity would mean.

steppemum Netherlands Mon 23-Sep-13 22:46:16

all children should have had the letter.

Not all children will speak up/put their hands up. Some will wait to see if it is a 'cool' activity.
Some will not get what it means, go home and chat to Mum, discover mum is supportive and decide to give it a go

souperb Mon 23-Sep-13 22:54:47

All children should have had the letter. Not everyone is brave enough to stick their hand up, not everyone has initiative to stick their hand up, and it's a conversation starter for parents and children on the subject of any instrument, or even learning any skill (e.g. I don't want to learn an instrument, but I'd prefer giving breakdancing/cookery/whatever a go if that is available).

I like to know what is available for my DC, even if we don't want to/aren't able do it, because it gives us ideas of what sorts of things are possible.

flowery Mon 23-Sep-13 23:00:52

All should get the letter. I missed out this way. We were asked in assembly when I was about 8 or 9 to put our hands up if we were interested in learning violin. I was shy about putting my hand up generally and also didn't think I would be allowed because of the money (not realising it was free).

A few years later I was able to start lessons but I missed out because it was done that way.

PatriciaHolm Mon 23-Sep-13 23:41:12

Letters to all children. Only sending to those you think might be interested smacks of prejudiced preselection; how can you possibly tell who really will be motivated by it? It's not your decision to make.

maree1 Tue 24-Sep-13 00:32:52

All parents should have been informed. The fair option.

TootsFroots Tue 24-Sep-13 00:38:54

I also think that letters should have gone to everyone. At that age the kids may not have thought it through. I would have thought it very odd not to be informed. I do think it would have been reasonable to let the parents know, in the letter, that you only want kids who are keen to play instruments to join the band.

TootsFroots Tue 24-Sep-13 00:41:07

It's 100% votes for sending the letter to everyone (so far)

peggyundercrackers Tue 24-Sep-13 00:49:44

im struggling with the fact that the teachers had a conversation about it and not one of them thought it was right to send the letters to all parents. I cant imagine what kind of education the kids are getting if the teachers minds are closed to children learning new things because they don't show an interest.

ClayDavis Tue 24-Sep-13 01:10:48

It does seem odd, peggy. I don't think I've come across a situation like this where all children weren't given the letters. That's with knowledge of schools in 3 different LAs. In the LA I grew up in the letters are sent out to every child in Year 1 across all schools. There would be outrage if the class teachers chose who to send the letters to.

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