Inheriting others’ pupils: a fresh start

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Taking on other people’s ex-pupils can be a tricky business – especially when they come with ingrained unhealthy habits. Focusing on upper strings, Alun Thomas outlines what may need to be addressed to make progress

Among the many regular, occasionally intense conversations I have with my colleagues and friends about playing and teaching, one stands out in some relief. Stated axiomatically, it goes something like this: ‘Inherit a student and you inherit their teachers’ habits!’

Over the last few years I’ve pondered, indirectly, the validity of this statement: if there were some truth in the claim, it follows that on the one hand it would be a good idea to maximise the positive aspects for the betterment of the student; on the other hand, however, minimising any potentially negative effects would be the primary task for the inheriting teacher. But as with any other axiom and especially in the world of string teaching, there are plenty of caveats and contradictions, and occasionally there is some special pleading…

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