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A touch of sanity? (but not from the Musicians' Union)

Discussion in 'Music' started by florian gassmann, Jan 7, 2011.

  1. florian gassmann

    florian gassmann Star commenter

    "Education Secretary Michael Gove has hit out at the Musicians' Union for
    advising teachers to avoid all physical contact with their pupils ... the Department for Education is taking steps to restore common sense to this whole area ... He said it was "proper and necessary" for adults to touch children when they demonstrated how to play a musical instrument."
    While I can understand the MU's fears, Gove is absolutely right that physical contact is sometimes necessary when correcting posture, hand positions, breathing and so on. I really don't understand the MU's stance that "it should not be necessary to touch children to teach them how to play an instrument".
  2. There is a context to Michael Gove's announcement.
    Avid forum-posters will be very chuffed to hear that Michael Gove's positive action is the result of media interest sparked by a groundswell of anger by music teachers on the ABRSM forum. You can see this thread, and how it developed, here:
    <a> http://www.abrsm.org/forum/index.php?showtopic=44570 [/URL]
  3. What sad situation have we arrived at. However, two things seem to have happened, one is the semantics of the word "touch" which has now taken on whole cargo-bay full of baggage to do with innapropripriate sexual behaviour. The other is the need by perfectly sane people to make sure they a seen as being on the "right" side by cracking down on the slightest little thing. I remember training to be a teacher and being sent to a primary school for two weeks. Within an hour children wanted to sit on my lap, grab my hand and all the other perfectly normal physical contact that children feel they need from adults - I remember being horrified and the experience confirmed my decision to go secondary and avoid the "ankle biters". But I'm not sure it should be this way, and I have had the opportunity to work in various primary schools where teachers seem to hug, restrain, physically direct, and generally use touching all the time.
    It is possible to teach without touching - to go through your entire life without touching anyone except your lover and your closest family - however it is not natural and not particularly helpful.

  4. I believe one of the main thrusts of the MU's advice was that not touching was a way of avoiding "false accusations" of inappropriate behaviour.
    Since I think a false accusation is an allegation that you've done something that actually you didn't do, please will someone from the MU explain how not touching will prevent pupils making such things up?
    There are probably far fewer parents out there who will object to the sort of touch that instrumental teachers commonly need to use than organisations like the MU seem to think; I wonder if those parents who are touchy (sorry) about it realise what screwed-up adults they are helping children are going to grow into? Or maybe their own parents were in the vanguard of the "all touching is bad" movement.

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