By visioning students as accomplished learners, as Dr. Duke advises in Assessment, teachers detail a precise destination for students. Imagining what a competent violinist does and knows empowers a violin teacher to measure a student’s’ development by their ability to do and know those things.
The need to assess skill based doing and not claiming-to-be-able-to-do is not specific to music education. Those who are respected in any industry have done outstanding, measurable work. In the connected, digital world, success is defined by those who do and demonstrate what they do. Don’t just say you are good, don’t just be good, but post a case study of your best work, write about your insights on your website, share your skills in a podcast interview, and don’t forget to show behind the scenes content on snapchat. Gary Vaynerchuk and Sean McCabe, two leaders in marketing strategy, coach individuals to provide value by doing and documenting the valuable work they do. Vaynerchuk and McCabe recommend storytelling because it helped them grow their own businesses in the new digital, knowledge economy. There is an economical advantage, a necessity, to enter the workforce with demonstrable quality work, as Cal Newport writes about extensively in So Good They Can’t Ignore You. It is no longer the college degree or certificate alone that proves you are qualified, but your portfolio.
If we frequently assess the deep skills required to be a competent musician in our students, then we teach our students not only musicianship, but their own ability to assess. The world is rapidly changing and we hardly know what future we are preparing our students for. But by doing our students into competence, we are really doing them into doing competence. And is there any preparation more valuable than that?
This post is one in a series of concise reflections on Dr. Robert Duke’s Intelligent Music Teaching: Essays on the Core Principles of Effective Instruction. Find the others here.