Mastery Commentary – A Peak Inside the Music World

Mr. David Strait

The mastery model has proved to be a natural fit with teaching music here at Capstone. In the performing arts, as in most of life, there is no “averaging” of grades or performance. Your most recent performance is what matters. When applying this model here at the Academy, the scholars immediately find that there is no harm in taking risks or experimenting with new information. If a particular playing exercise, or even a test, goes poorly, they understand that as long as they grow from the experience, there is no negative effect in the class. The very idea that “failing” at a single early performance, assessment, job interview, or personal interaction would drag down and limit your future potential is absurd outside of the classroom, so why would we teach that philosophy to developing young minds? It is at best counterproductive and damaging to initiative, and at worst blatantly cruel. And yet we wonder why our youth fear rejection, find guilt and shame in making mistakes, and avoid taking positive risks.


Further, teaching mastery of skills and content rather than chasing a grade average has allowed several of our scholars the opportunity to push far ahead of our curriculum. We have a number who have completed exercises to prove their mastery of content ahead of their class, and will be moving on to new material their classmates may not get to experience this year. Both subsets of students are “passing” and may well earn the same grade at the end of the term, but the mastery model has ignited a passion for learning and for excellence that goes beyond the report card. These scholars have decided to take the initiative and learn more for the sake of learning, and to chase excellence rather than chasing enough points to get an A. I take pride in sending out young citizens who are carrying useful skills, courage, a passion for excellence, and a love of learning rather than just good grades.

Mastery vs Traditional Grading Slide Presentation - Dr. Goers

For information on how the Mastery Model is used here at Capstone, click HERE.