Some years ago, while attending a holiday party, I had a conversation with a gentleman who worked in advertising. It was fascinating. The most interesting thing to me was hearing how much research went into his field. It seemed that every decision was guided by information gleaned from research done in an effort to understand how people think and act when it comes to understanding and purchasing a product or service. The notion I thought most valuable to us as teachers was the “Rule of Seven,” which simply states that it takes the average person hearing about something, or seeing something, at least seven times before they understand and value it. Seven times? Really? Now obviously, this is reducing a very, very complex issue into a huge generalization that has an enormous number of factors acting upon it, but it has stood the test of time and seems to have great validity. Think about it: how often have you seen a long commercial on television, only to see it again an hour later? A few hours later you see a shortened version of that same commercial. Later that evening you see an even shorter version, before seeing the original full-length commercial the next day. The next time this happens, count how many times you see that commercial in some guise. I bet it’s seven times! For us, as teachers, it offers insights into how many times we need to repeat ourselves – or offer slightly different explanations of something – for it to sink in for our students. Knowing this should certainly reduce our frustration, as it explains why patience is not only a virtue in education, but is absolutely essential.

Peter Loel Boonshaft, Director of Education
KHS America

About the Author

Dr. Boonshaft, Director of Education for KHS America, is the author of the critically acclaimed best-selling books Teaching Music with Passion, Teaching Music with Purpose, and Teaching Music with Promise. He was honored by the National Association for Music Education and Music For All as the first recipient of the “George M. Parks Award for Leadership in Music Education.” Dr. Boonshaft was selected for the Center for Scholarly Research and Academic Excellence at Hofstra University in Hempstead, NY, where he is Professor Emeritus of Music.