I’ve been reading the book “Nurtured by Love” by Shinichi Suzuki. I haven’t gotten very far into it, but a quick scan through the book leads me to believe that this is a “why” book rather than a “how to” book. If you’re looking for a book that will help you teach your child music using the Suzuki Method, I don’t think you will find the answers in this book. Although he talks about the philosophy surrounding the Suzuki Method, the book doesn’t not prescribe a step by step method for teaching. In many ways, it is similar to Shichida’s books on Right Brain education which makes references to activities they use to develop a child’s right brain, but does not lay it out in a step by step format the way Doman does in his books.
In Nurtured by Love, Suzuki talks about how he developed the idea of talent education. It grew from a simple seed of discovery: that children all over the world are able to learn how to speak their native language. Although it sounds like a dismissible thought, Suzuki realised the magnitude of an accomplishment we seem to take for granted. The learning of language is amazingly complex and yet babies achieve it without apparent difficulty. Then, when a child is later struggling to master the concepts of Mathematics in school, we assume that he is not Mathematically inclined; or if she does poorly in music, that she is not musically talented; or if he stumbles in Physical Education, he is not the “sporty” type. We assume that the fault lies in the child’s inability when in reality, the fault lies in us – the educators.
It is a remarkable concept – if a child cannot succeed in school, it is not that the child is stupid. The problem is the system – the method of education. We simply aren’t teaching it right. So we’re right back to Right Brain philosophy – our children can do anything, achieve anything, and be anything that they want to be. They can be brilliant Mathematicians, they can be excellent sports people, they can be artistic or musical. There are only two things that stop them from achieving all this – the support (as in the educational system – the method of learning) and the child’s inclination for that subject (you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink – if a child isn’t interested in the subject, you can’t make him learn it).
All this reminded me about how people learn differently. A simple example would be the auditory learner versus a visual learner. Some people prefer to hear things to learn, while others need to see it. It’s not that they cannot learn it the other way, it’s just that they find it easier to learn it through the method they prefer. Another example would be those metal brain puzzles where you are supposed to be able to separate the two pieces – some people can just look at the puzzle and figure out the answer while others need to fiddle with the bits of metal to figure out how they separate.
Yet another example are those individuals who seem to fail at academic studies in school, while their teachers puzzle over the fact that they appear intelligent in all other aspects. Our education system caters to a very specific style of learning and if that doesn’t fit your child’s style, your child struggles.
I thought it was an excellent message from Shinichi Suzuki. The next time our children run into trouble with a specific subject, instead of assuming that she lacks the talent for that subject, we should be open to other methods for teaching that subject. And with the vast resources at our fingertips today, the options are boundless – it is just a matter of looking for them.