And lately, I’ve been thinking it actually comes from this beautifully protective, care-taking place. Teachers have such a deep sense of empathy, that we are constantly on the lookout for students’ well-beings, even if they are not our own. The positive experience of every student, feels like our personal responsibility to insure. Even if I’ve never met a singer in my life, I want to hear that they are being treated well and given the instructions and empowerment that fit their goals.
The tricky part is that I can much more easily trust that a student is being given a positive experience if it closely reflects the methods, ideals and terminologies that I personally use. I have never met a voice teacher whose primary goal it was to make their student feel badly or to sing poorly. And yet, when we see traits in someone else’s teaching that do not match our own, our protective instincts kick in and we want to save that student from what we assume is a sub-par or even dangerous experience.
These protective, guttural reactions to another person’s differing approach remind me of the discussions often found in the parenting community. These online parenting discussions have become so heated, personal and intense the term ‘Mommy Wars’ has been coined. All the parents in these discussions want what’s best for their children and for the children of other parents, but the different approaches make it seem like some choices are ‘right’ and some are ‘wrong’.
A group of moms in Connecticut responded with a photography movement called “End the Mommy Wars”. You can read the full CNN article here. The goal was to “love more and judge less” with a campaign for Judgment-Free Motherhood. The execution of the message was simple, mothers stood side by side in photographs with signs that stated differing decisions they had made in their parenting-
--What other signs would you hold?
--How has judgment from other colleagues impacted your teaching? When has it inspired change and when has it inspired alienation?
--How do you think judgment in the voice world impacts our ability to have discussions as a voice community?
I love this simple exercise: writing down an approach you choose to take, owning it with pride, and standing side by side with a colleague who shares a different approach. It has so much simplicity and yet so much power in it. The power of just saying that we are all here, we all co-exist, we all want the best for our students, and we are all going to make mistakes. And we are all okay.
Yes, we are all okay. That needs to be the starting platform for any further questions and discussions we want to have as a voice community. And I am ready for any teachers out there who want to grab a sign and a sharpie. Let’s share these kinds of pictures; I am here to stand next to you.