This 10 year-old kid had tremendous difficulty on painting watercolor. Despite I taught him (like to everybody else) the basic technique of watercolor, demonstrated the first part of painting, he still could not deal with it. One of reasons he had such difficulty was that he believed - like many other kids - that he must paint everything just exactly identical as sample painting. Of course, during the course of teaching I repeatedly told them that there is no need and it's almost impossible for them to make a exact copy of original painting, but still, this kid is still always in big trouble whenever he knew he could not make it exactly like what he saw. With each tinny step, he would just stop there, and waiting for my instruction. Then I told him (many times) that he should try by himself, even he knew he would fail, he should still try. I told him that it is better to make many mistakes and learn from them, than to make all perfections by the help of teacher and still cannot do it by his own.
Obviously, this slow process drew his father's attention. He stepped out from side of classroom and realized his son did not make any progress since last couple of sessions. Also he probably heard what I told his son, and profoundly disagreed. So what he did was standing right beside his son, told him exactly what to do. His son followed everything he told him, with extremely unhappy/embarrassed expression on his face. I mentioned to the father that this is not a good way to teach art, but he openly opposed my idea, saying if I don't teach, of course his son wouldn't know. Then we had mild argument for a little while before I left both of them alone. However, just in about another 10 minuets, while I was helping other students, I suddenly heard the father declared: "sorry, we are leaving". I turned around and tried to check out what happened, I found the son already left his seat with painting on his hand, and his father told me seriously (but not angrily): "We are leaving. He is not going to paint this anymore".
I did not see how the painting looked like, but I was certain that it didn't turn out as his father wished, otherwise, he would not "order" his son to stop and leave. This proved to me that his teaching method did not succeed either.
Teaching art is so much different from teaching math, or science. In latter case, as long the theories were thoroughly explained and understood, students can usually solve the problems within no time, but in the case of teaching art, after the basic technique was explained and demonstrated, students still need lots of time to practice on their own, in order to master the technique. And it is not my belief that technique of painting should be detailed into each subject, such as how to paint trees, how to paint water. There are time to time students asked me these questions, I always told them that I only teach "how to paint", not "how to paint specifically one thing". If a student learned how to paint "a tree", she/he may not know how to paint "many trees"; if she/he learned how to paint water in small ripples, she/he cannot paint water big waves. "How to paint" on the other hand, simply involves some basic color theory and how to use painting materials, and how to build layers on painting surface, etc. Also, for realistic painting, understanding perspective, proportions and shading principle might be utmost important. So, by my understanding, as long as students understanding these issue, they should be able to deal with different different subjects without too much difficulty. And how exactly they will paint each subjects, I think it's better I leave that alone, because that's the fun part and also the exactly from where students' own styles will develop.
Yes, there are some artists out there teach people how to paint trees, or mountains, such as Bob Ross, but after lessons students would all know how to paint like Bob Ross, not how to paint their own art. I know many parents expected me teaching like that, unfortunately it is just not my way. Most parents understood my "theory" after I explained to them, but some of them don't, like this one, I would call him "tiger father". He has tremendous energy and working very hard all his life, and now he has been make sure his sons following the same path. Since very earlier age, his sons worked hard on everything possible: piano, art, math, science, etc. Both his sons came to my studio about 3 years ago, when the younger one was only about 7. Both of them didn't seem to be healthy and energetic as their father, and both were extremely quiet, extremely good at following "orders". I soon notice, the younger one had serious anxiety when he made mistakes. Once I asked him to change something, he hold the eraser, repeatedly erased the same spot with anger, even made some sort of sound which drew attention of classmates. About half years later "tiger father" suddenly canceled their art learning due to his elder son's chronic health issue. He also expressed tremendous embarrassment, which I did not know what for.
And over a year later, younger son came back to me. I still notice he has psychological issue whenever he does paintings. He can handle drawing better, probably because there are more rules to follow, such as proportion, perspective, etc., but painting, where I encourage my students to be more creative, he just could not handle it at all.
I have my reason to believe, that his energetic father trained his two son like machine. Whenever I saw his younger son made mistakes, I literally saw "fear" in his eyes, as if the unspeakable punishment would come. Another day "tiger father" told me that his elder son was accepted by Yale University, I congratulated him. But honestly, if I had kids, would I envy him? My answer is a big "NO", because I think humans are much more admirable than "machine".