Welcome to the Innovative Conservatoire

ICON Seminar 5

Dartington, UK


Encouraging risk

Gemma Carey

Last updated August 20, 2013


“We cannot make our students learn but we can create a situation in which they want to learn.  We cannot learn for our students but we can create a situation in which they can teach themselves.  Creative teaching is finding ways to help students teach themselves something they want to learn” (Chronister, 2005)

This source is important to me because it very much reflects my philosophy about learning which is the opposite of how my own learning occurred.  The situation in which I learnt was harsh and authoritarian and did not allow me to ‘explore’, ‘experiment’ and be creative for fear of being seen as stupid.  My constant concern about ‘getting it wrong’ inhibited my approach and growth in performance and in particular made me fearful to improvise.

The discussion during the symposium which has focussed on ‘coaching’ as opposed to ‘instruction’ has re-inforced my desire and determination to create an environment in which students feel ‘comfortable’ and ‘safe’ to ask questions and experiment with new ideas.  Coaching shifts the teaching strategy from ‘show and tell’ to ‘ask, listen, and watch’ (Duke). It encourages autonomy of learning. This approach is very much reflected in the source I chose.

The sessions on coaching have reminded me about the importance of student autonomy and self-reflection.  Through the coaching process it becomes evident that when you are in a room with students, the teacher is also the learner – just as the student also becomes the teacher.  Secondly, the coaching process helps the learner to change perceptions of their own behaviour – not just what they do but how they think about what they do.  Most importantly the coaching process helps to motivate change and provides a non-judgmental environment for learning thus encouraging risk taking which is crucial to learning.

We saw how important the narrative can be as a way of reflecting.

An image I think of is that of a life buoy. A life buoy symbolises what learning can be – it has enough rope to allow the freedom for the student to swim away and come back – to go further out into the ocean bit by bit when confidence is developed and when the student feels overwhelmed or falls overboard – it provides them with a safely device and security.  The teacher is the lifeline but at the same time allows the student the freedom to creatively explore the ocean and in turn develop an independent and creative mind that eventually allows them to swim and explore by themselves.



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