I end up teaching a lot of “remedial” students–students that come to me from other teachers. Most times these are electric or non-classical guitar students. The only thing they all have in common is a almost religious avoidance of using the fourth finger. As if teachers just accept that the left hand fourth finger is useless and should never be used.
The only way to get a student to really use his/her pinky is give them tasks that require it. It doesn’t have to be complicated. Most teachers do notation reading with young students–something that makes it easy to use the fourth finger approach. Even power chords can be taught using 1 and 4 instead of 1 and 3.
Teachers need to quit thinking the pinky just happens one day. We train the other three left hand fingers from the first lesson, why not train the so called weakest one?
By avoiding the use of the fourth finger you’re literally training your students not to use it.