I started learning to play the clarinet in 9th grade, without any prior musical experience. I attended a Catholic elementary school. grades K-8 that did not provide any music instruction. My parents and family members were not musical. I did not have any friends who played an instrument. I began failing at playing the clarinet, an instrument that I had never seen until it was handed to me at my first lesson.
What shaped my decision-making - to persist, to practice more and more, even while my friends were outside playing ball, to continue forging on thru squeaks, wrong notes and awful renditions?
I had a music teacher, who cared as much about me as a person as he did about me as a clarinet player in the school band. My interest, curiosity and initial efforts were met with encouragement, humor, praise and constant challenges. I succeeded at one small tune, exercise, and performance at a time and a belief that I could succeed took hold. Seeds for character traits such as perseverance, focus, self-control, conscientiousness, grit and self-efficacy were planted and nourished. Eventually they were manifested thru my music and other challenges that I faced throughout my life.
Glad to see this Teachers Guild Character Learning Design Sprint. In light of all that is happening in our world today I cannot think of a more relevant, timely and needed focus. I believe that what really matters in our schools is to first help learners develop "non-cognitive skills" such as persistence, self-control, curiosity and conscientiousness. What might happen if more time and opportunities were provided to address a learner's specific curiosities; to foster their meta-cognition - the foundation for helping themselves drive their learning, which in turn enables them to build character traits essential for success?