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  • Writer's pictureAdam Hope

A few educational maxims - courtesy of Mrs Curwen

Before giving the maxims it seems only right that I contextualise by giving the source and some basic info about the author. I hope these maxims are of interest to other pedagogues and educationalists - they were brought to my attention by my friend and esteemed Kodaly practitioner Cyrilla Rowsell. They have a timeless and universal quality about them, which I am sure other teachers will appreciate.

The maxims are presented at the beginning of “Mrs Curwen’s Pianoforte Method - A Guide to the Piano.” The edition I have is the 16th edition from 1913.

A little info on the author, courtesy of Wikipedia: 

Annie Jessy Curwen (1845 – 22 April 1932), born Annie Jessy Gregg, usually known from her books as Mrs. Curwen or Mrs. J. Spencer Curwen, was a writer children's books and books for music teachers, on music theory and performance, and particularly piano playing, which were published by J. Curwen & Sons Ltd. of London in the late 19th century. 

The Maxims:

1. Teach the easy before the difficult;

2. Teach the thing before the sign;

3. Teach one fact at a time, and the commonest fact first;

4. Leave out all exceptions and anomalies until the general rule is understood;

5. In training the mind, teach the concrete before the abstract;

6. In developing physical skills, teach the elemental before the compound, and do one thing at a time;

7. Proceed from the known to the related unknown;

8. Let each lesson, as far as possible, rise out of that which goes before, and lead up to that which follows;

9. Call in the understanding to help the skill at every step;

10. Let the first impression be a correct one; leave no room for misunderstanding;

11. Never tell a pupil anything that you can help them to discover for themselves;

12. Let the pupil, as soon as possible, derive some pleasure from their knowledge.  Interest can only be kept up by a sense of growth in independent power. 

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