Today saw the culmination of an experiment whose purpose was to reduce the agonising wait between applying for guitar instruction and getting the results. The beneficiaries were several classes of P5 pupils in two primary schools and, to make this possible, pupils from P6 to S6 sacrificed their first lesson of the session. Consequently, no P5 pupil had to wait more than 48 hours to find if they were able to squeeze into the limited spaces. In previous years, the wait has been more like 8 weeks because the testing time lasted only as long as the P5 teaching time – 2 x 30mins per school per week.
Overall, I’d say it was a success. From the point of view of the pupils this seems clear. From the point of view of their class teachers, they traded in low-level, lasting disruption for a constant but shorter variety. From my own point of view, I feel that the testing process was much quicker for not being a stop/start affair: the room and instruments were laid out, ready to go; one group of pupils followed hot on the heels of another; the vocabulary was fresh in the mind and the whole thing seemed to race along. From the point of view of those who missed a lesson, all I can say is that, if you have to miss one, the first one after summer is the one to choose. Pupils are instructed to have a rest from playing in the summer in the hope of returning refreshed and eager. This rest usually lasts right up until the first lesson so let’s hope the process of refamiliarisation with the instrument has been blossoming this week.
On an anecdotal note, it was nice to spend so much time in primary schools – the norm is only one day per week. I may be imagining this but primary schools feel more cohesive than their secondary counterparts – perhaps by necessity and very possibly due to size. There are also more spontaneous and smiley “hellos” in the corridor from pupils one doesn’t teach – and more engagement from pupils you don’t know. Primary pupils seem to feel that any member of staff is fair game to ask for and offer help – and somehow that feels right.