I know very little about music. A lot of what I do know about music, I’ve learned from students who knew way more than me. Isn’t it nice when that happens? But one thing I am really interested in and have thought a lot about is metaphors for teaching and how other careers relate to teaching. I think we’ve all had the experience of feeling like a stand-up comedian on a really bad night. (Tap, tap. . . is this thing on?) Zookeeper comes to mind at times, too. But I’ve been thinking that conductor might be one of the best metaphors. Which is funny, because I’m still not sure I understand what a conductor does. But that’s the point: good conductors apparently do something (a lot of things) that naive people like me don’t recognize, but which allows the musicians to play their best music. And I think teaching is a lot like that. Good teachers are doing an enormous number of subtle things that even they may not realize they’re doing that allow their students to shine and learn.
So what does music have to do with messiness? Well, the other day I was listening to this episode of the Hidden Brain podcast and they started talking about jazz music and, sure enough, that sounded like teaching to me, too. Because the topic was messiness and teaching is messy. Continue reading